Thursday, March 24, 2016

Concert, orthodontist, and Houston's finger

There was a concert for the elementary kids tonight. Zane was completely excited about it, and was very nearly literally bouncing off the walls beforehand. They split the concert into younger kids and older kids, which is really helpful in keeping it from being so, so long

I'm obviously mostly interested in my kid's performance, but the entire concert was pretty entertaining this time. In the third grade, there was one boy who thoroughly amused me by standing perfectly still with a defiant expression the entire performance, straight up refusing to participate in any way. He didn't just not sing, he did not sing, even going so far as to hide behind classmates so the director couldn't see him. And then the "honor's choir" sang, and Katrina and Houston both have a number of friends in that choir. 

And then the fourth graders came on! And...the director immediately lined the entire front of the stage with big stands, so that nearly the entire audience couldn't actually see their kids. I feel like the music and band teachers do that kind of thing nearly every performance. We'll have a perfect view of the stage...and then just before the performance they stick something RIGHT in the way. I just don't understand. 

Zane was really, really happy. He smiled and smiled. He got to play the ukulele for one of the songs and did so with perfect rhythm. (He told me beforehand, "He's only taught us to strum. So that's not really playing.") 

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Katrina and Houston had an appointment at the orthodontist this morning. It was mostly to determine what they needed. The orthodontist looked at Houston and used words "Overjet - severe," and lots of other words that i didn't understand the meaning of at all, and ultimately said, "Well, we can definitely fix this. We might need to pull a couple of teeth, but we'll have to do x-rays and molds before we make a decision. Don't get too worried just yet."

And then he looked at Katrina and declared that her mouth just doesn't have the room for her permanent teeth, so her teeth are shifting over to be out of alignment, so she needs braces, but we should wait about 6 months so that more of her baby teeth have maybe come out. 

Um, also? I don't know if you're aware, but braces are expensive. Like, "I probably don't need my spleen, so maybe i could sell it on the black market" expensive. 

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We got home from school this afternoon, and as we were getting out of the car, Houston suddenly screamed bloody murder and started weeping and panicking. His finger totally got slammed in the sliding door of the van and stuck there, so he had to open the door to get it out. He told me later that he didn't even realize it was hurt until he couldn't walk away, and then he looked, and his finger was completely bent a crazy way, and he was convinced that it was completely, completely broken. Possibly unfixable. So he was picturing his life with one of his fingers bent and deformed forever. 

Even without being broken, it was pretty well smashed up. He immediately had a giant bruise across his finger. Poor little guy. We put ice on it for an hour or so, and it's much better already. Baby's first finger slammed in a car door. They don't have a slot for that in his baby book.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Interview Monday

At what age is a person an adult? Why?
Zane: About 23, maybe? Or when they get a car. Because they just seem really responsible with a car.
Katrina: 21, because that's more mature than 18, but you don't have to be 25. I think somewhere in your twenties is when you got married?
Houston: 22, because that's the age at which you can make responsible decisions, usually.

Of all the things you're learning, what will be the most useful when you're an adult?
Zane: Science stuff, because if you become a scientist, then it'll be really useful, and even you don't become a scientist it'll still be really useful because if you have children, if they ask you how plants work, you can tell them.
Katrina: Probably math, because you use it for all sorts of different jobs. Like if you're a construction worker, you need to measure how much stuff you need, and if you're a scientist you'll need math, because you need to know how much you need of this or that.
Houston: Probably social studies, because you really need to know the country and world history to understand half of the stuff they're saying on NPR or whatever.

What is the hardest thing about being a kid?
Zane: Being bullied a lot. Two boys in my grade chase me around at recess and shout, "Be normal! Be normal! Be normal!" at me.
Katrina: Going through that stage when you don't have any friends. (Me: Have you been through that stage? Katrina: Yes. I think when i was in fourth grade. Me: Wasn't that when you couldn't narrow your birthday party list down to ten girls? Katrina: Yes.... But still!)
Houston: Having to do what people say, but still having freedoms, but only when they want you to have them. So it's really confusing.

Where is your favorite place in the world?
Zane: Home or the forest - or nature, pretty much. I just think that nature is really cool and i really like home because it's where i feel safest.
Katrina: I really like it at home, in the woods, or Grandma's house. Home because i live here and it's really nice and i like it and i know everywhere and i grew up in it and there are so many memories. The woods, because i know everywhere and i just really like it and everything is very adventure-y. And then i really like Grandma's house because i've been there so many times and i really like it there and it's very memory-filled.
Houston: The front room and my bedroom. I feel like this room has a comfy couch and comfy places to sit and computers, and my room has my bed and all my stuff.

What 5 words most describe you?
Zane: Kind, energetic, nature-liking, friendly, and loving.
Katrina: Artistic, animal-lover, smart, loved, and loving.
Houston: Happy, weird, thinks-that-inanimate-objects-have-personality-traits, family-guy, and friendly.

If you could give one gift to every single kid in the world, what would it be?
Zane: A puppy! Well...except that lots of people are probably allergic. So...a personal little robot, maybe. Because if they were feeling lonely, the robot would always be there to comfort them. Like Baymax.
Katrina: The gift of flying. They'd be able to fly, because everybody wants to fly!
Houston: A friend.

How would the world be different if animals could talk?
Zane: Well, it would be really noisy, that's for sure! Because there would be animals talking like, "No, please!!! Please don't eat me!!! NOOOOO!!!" And they'd be like, "Feed me! Feed me! Feeeeeed meeee!"
Katrina: It would be annoying. All the humans would be wearing earmuffs or headphones all the time, because they wouldn't want to hear, "Give me food! Give me food! Give me food! Pay attention! Pay attention! Pay attention!" and other annoying stuff.
Houston: Well, it would probably be very obnoxious all of the time. Like, imagine if Emma could talk. We'd just be sitting here and she'd go, "I WANT FOOD! FOOD!!" And you'd be in the jungle, and you'd hear, "I want to eat you!" It would probably be bad for the animals, though, because the cheetah would say, "I'm going to eat that lion," and the lion would say, "No you're not!" and run away. Except that cheetahs don't eat lions.....

What is something that makes your family special?
Zane: They're all really weird. Not in a bad way.
Katrina: We don't have "only Mom bakes the food" or something, and nobody comes down in the morning to make eggs or pancakes. (I don't want you to! You like sleeping and i want you to sleep!) We don't play video games very much. And we don't watch the news. And we have a lot of computers.
Houston: We all have awesome personalities and we love people and we probably talk a lot more than other families do. I think other families are centered around technology a lot so they don't get to be with their family members much.

What is your favorite thing to do?
Zane: Probably be with the people that i love. Because i always feel safest around them, because they won't bully me, so i'll always be happy around them.
Katrina: Draw and read. How about change draw to "anything with a pen a paper." No! Anything art. There. ART!
Houston: Talk to my friends and my family and play with my friends.

What do you think you'll be doing 10 years from now?
Zane: So i'll be 19.... I'll be old enough to drive a car. And i might have a bank account. Well, i won't be getting drunk, definitely. I'll be getting presents for people on their birthday.....?
Katrina: Sitting in my zoo.
Houston: So i'll be 24? I will possibly be married. I will have a job. And i will maybe own a house and a car and i will have written a couple of books.

Pinewood Derby!

Saturday was Zane's pinewood derby. He was really proud of his car. He came up with all of the ideas himself - the shape and the color and the blue-painted leather lightning bolt and the flashing red and blue LED lights. It was really cute and totally different from every other car there.

It was also the first car in our family that was fast.

The way they do the races is this: The track has 4 lanes, and everyone races their car in every lane, so every car races 4 times. They race by groups - the oldest group, then the next-oldest, etc. (As you can imagine, it takes forever.) Zane's group had 5 kids, so he raced in every race but one. (Is this making sense?)

Zane won every single race that he was in. We were all, "Yay! He won his heat!" Except that... he didn't. He somehow got second place. I do not understand even a little bit how that is possible, but according to the computer (which is notoriously persnickety and wrong), he lost by .02 seconds. It's really not a big enough deal to question the leaders or make a fuss, but Zane was disappointed. (He did, however, explain to Beth that "It's really supposed to be a gold medal, but it looks like a silver one for some reason.")

The disappointment of getting silver was lessened considerably, because he did unanimously win the gold medal in the leaders' choice for best-looking car. Yay! I'm actually kind of happy that that's the medal he got gold in, because the speed was mostly Juanito's doing, but Zane can totally take credit for the appearance. Woohoo!

Sunday, March 20, 2016


In Michigan, all of the fourth graders are invited take a tour of the state capital. Apparently this has been going on for years - some of the moms that went along said that they remember going when they were in fourth grade. It's kind of a cool tradition. All of my kids have loved it.

Friday was Zane's field trip to Lansing, and i got to go along as a chaperon. Our group was the biggest group, and we had the worst kid (i can't prove that, but i'm fairly certain that i'm right), so there were parts of the trip that weren't ideal, but Zane loved it.

Our first stop was the Science museum. Zane was super, completely excited about this museum, because, "I want to be a scientist, so of course i'm excited!" There were a few really interesting things there that i'd have loved to play around with if i was there with only my kids. Every single exhibit we came to, Zane would have wanted to look at for a lot longer, but the rest of the kids in our group were not so excited. They were all, "Can we go to the next room? Can we go to the next room? Can we just go to the bubble room???" We'd been given very strict instructions that we needed to absolutely stay together as a group, so i couldn't just let some of the kids go on and others stay back. I tried to slow everyone down, but keeping six kids in one area when they are determined to leave it is nearly impossible. So we kind of flew through the first several rooms, got to the bubble room (where the kids realized that, oh. It's not actually that fun when you're not 4 years old), flew through the next several rooms, and then had still had lots of time left over...but the five kids that weren't Zane didn't want to go back to look at things they'd already seen. (Eye. Roll.)

(Side note: Worst kid ever - hereafter known as WKE - completely ignored my constant refrain of, "We NEED to stay together as a group. Do not go out of this area," and just ... intentionally walked off repeatedly. At one point, when i reminded him to stay with the group, he angrily told me, "I am not a kid!" To which i replied, "Um. Yes. You are. You're kind of the definition of  'a kid.'" He was not happy with me at all.)

Stop two was the History museum. I think it's just the history of Michigan, so it's not exactly the MOST thrilling of museums, but we had one of the kids in our group who was actually completely interested in looking closely at most of it. He was totally excited about the history and told me that this is what he was looking forward to the most.

We got there, walked into the first room, and there was a table with papers and instructions to "Draw what nature means to you." WKE turns to me and asks, "Can i draw something inappropriate?" Me: "NO!" He proceeded to write the F word in large letters, filling the paper. I was talking to another kid at the time, and one of the other kids called, "WKE is being inappropriate." WKE immediately ripped up the paper into about 6 pieces, and then was shocked - SHOCKED - when i could still tell what it said. (Apparently he doesn't yet realize that there aren't a lot of inappropriate words that start with fu?) I banned him from that area. He left for 30 seconds and then came back and started drawing on a giant paper on the wall.
Me: "You are not allowed in here."
Him: "I'm just drawing a picture."
Me: "I don't care. You lost the privilege of being in here when you disobeyed specific instructions and wrote inappropriate words."
Him: "You can't tell me what to do."
I sent him out of that area. He immediately walked out of the room to go across the hall to a different room. I called him back. He covered his ears (!) and ignored me. I ran to stand in front of him and told him that he needed to stay right next to me from now on. He walked away, grabbed a pole, and refused to move. At this point, i gave up and told him that we needed to find his teacher. He refused, continued to hold on to the pole, and told me, "It doesn't matter if you hate me. You still can't make me do anything." I heaved a deep sigh and sent the 2 girls in our group to go get their teacher and bring her to us. She took him away to call his mom, and the rest of us were free from him for most of the rest of the museum. I may have sighed a deep sigh of relief.

The rest of the time in the History museum was fairly typical. Most of the ran past every single exhibit in an effort to get to the next exhibit, which they would then run past. Except for the one boy who was SO interested. We had plenty of time (and that's what we were there for), so i totally made the other kids slow - much to their annoyance. WKE joined us again when we were in the last room of the museum, and immediately made me SO GLAD that he hadn't been with us the whole time.

The final stop of the trip was the capital building. It's my favorite part, partly because it's just a beautiful building, but also because it's all one giant group, and the tour guide is in charge. By the time we were walking around there, Zane was exhausted, but he was still quite captivated by everything. (May i just say that i love that Zane is so interested in learning and seeing new things? He was one of the most engaged kids for the entire trip.)

We rode on buses, and the trip home was quite quiet. Everyone else was obviously worn out too.

We got back to the school at about 6:15, and one of the other chaperons was nice enough to drive Zane home, so that i could go straight to the theater, which is about half a mile from the school. There was a Ladies Night event for "Allegiant," and it started at 6:30, so i was really grateful to not have to drive him home, turn around, and go straight back. Beth, Juanito (yep, he went to his first Ladies Night), Diana, Karla, and Stephanie (and several other people - we had a group of 10) all went as well. It's always fun when there's Ladies Night because they have food and desserts and usually everyone is extra excited. This time people were a lot less excited about the movie, i think. And with good reason - we knew it was going to be terrible, and we were not wrong. We giggled through large sections that were not actually supposed to be funny. It was just ridiculous. But fun!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Three things

Sometimes, when i'm saying goodnight to the kids, i'll have them tell me three things. I originally meant for it to be about their day, but for some of the kids (*cough*zane*cough*) that's not necessarily interesting. So it can be any three things that they want to tell me about. I'm always a little bit amused at how the things that each kid tells me fits so exactly their personality.

For example, tonight. These are the three things each kid talked about:

1. (List of friends) all got accepted to the same high school as him, but most of them are also applying for either City or another school as well.
2. (Best friend who moved away) said that he's going to visit this summer sometime. Yay!
3. "I won a bet with (best friend who moved away), and so now he has to upload a video of himself doing what i tell him to do: saying that he's insane, laughing hysterically, smashing an egg on his forehead, and eating lettuce with ketchup."

1. Long story about how her friends decided to do the song that she suggested -  "Try" - for the talent show.
2. Long story about how another friend has stolen the idea and is now doing the same song for the talent show.
3. (Sort of friend) wore her Tardis dress to school today, which is really cool, because Katrina wore her Doctor Who shirt to school today too, so it was a very Whovian day.

1. There used to be a dish that they would serve to royal people that had slimy fish and lamprey eels baked into a pie.
2. They used to catapult dead bodies and severed heads into castles to spread disease and terror during wars.
3. There's a dish that they serve at a really fancy restaurant that has gold shavings in it, and it's really expensive.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Houston is 14!

Dear Houston,

Fourteen. Fourteen! How is that even possible? It seems like only recently that we were making rules for you like, "You're not allowed to sit on other children."

You were not always the easiest of children, my son. You were our first, and you broke us into parenting with a bang. Even as a toddler, you were all about being wild. We would put you on time out for throwing things, and as soon as you were back up, you'd go straight back to throwing the same things. When Katrina was still a tiny baby, you figured out that if you screamed in the car, she would cry. And so you would scream and she would cry, and you'd wait until she calmed down and then scream again. You sat on your friends and pushed them and were generally pretty rough with other kids in general. The first several years of school, you got into trouble constantly, and i was starting to get genuinely worried for your future.

And then, you just kind of sorted everything out. You started excelling at school - for the past few years, we've heard almost exclusively positive things about you from your teachers. With the occasional exception with your siblings, you've stopped being too wild with other people. You've developed an amazing sense of empathy, and you are incredibly kind to other people. You try really hard to do the right thing.

Maybe that strong will, that mind of your own, that was used for evil when you were small is now working for good. You have a strong sense of self, and a strong moral compass, and you aren't afraid to be who you are.

You've gathered a group of friends around you, and you are all delightfully geeky together. Not only do you not care about being one of the popular kids, but you actually try not to be one of the popular kids. You want friends who are, like you, interested in Doctor Who and books and how things work. And your friends are really great. I could not have chosen better friends for you if i'd been in charge.

I feel like this going to be a year of change. Right now you're still quite a bit shorter than me, but there's a good chance you'll be taller by next year. By next year you'll probably have braces. You'll be hitting puberty, and your voice will change, and you'll develop that gangly look that teenaged boys always seem to have. You'll maybe stop wanting to snuggle on the couch during movies. You're on the brink, and i'm both sad to be losing my little boy and excited to see what kind of adult you're going to turn into.

You're smart and funny and kind. You're really good at encouraging others and building them up. You are joyful and thoughtful You're creative and love sharing your creativity with others. You love Minecraft and making and editing Minecrafting videos. You've been making comics lately, and while they are vaguely disturbing, they totally show your sense of humor.

Keep being who you are, Houston. You're an amazing guy, and i can't wait to see what's next.