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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Everyone is a year older.


I've been working on this blog post for about six months.  Slowly adding more kids as their birthday passed.

Written in January 2020
D'arcy turned fifteen this past August.  She's awake an hour before us all, and the newly opened Redline takes her from around the corner to the front of her school.  She had been resistant to the idea of public transportation and was talking about Drivers Ed and getting a car.   But after one practice bus trip with me, she saw it for what it was, freedom.  Now we have to remind her that even if she has an independent form of transportation to get to an event, she still has to ask and inform us.

Giving her freedom feels pretty easy, though.  She's deeply responsible and motivated and has earned our respect.  Her report card came in the mail and it listed her class rank as #1.  But we do have conversations about value though.  It's great to strive for great grades, but, ultimately, the learning will be the value you carry with you.  It's fine to be competitive, but comparison steals joy.

There seems to always be clothing flowing from her closet door. When three girls share one room, it's challenging for it to ever feel clean.  Now that she's in high school, I have more of a desire to give her her own space.  We are strongly considering turning our attic into a live-able space.  It's definitely something we want to accomplish by the time she's in college.  I think it would be hard to push her back up into her bunk "apartment" once she becomes an adult.  But until then, I see the beauty in her still sharing a childhood room with her sisters.

She and Julian are teenagers together, now.  Once, this fall, they asked me, "Have you seen the Birds work for the bourgeoisie on TikTok?"  "What?  Are speaking English?"

D'arcy asked us to buy her $250 Apple EarPods for Christmas.  She assured us that we could combine our gift budget with grammy and grandpa's to afford them.  It could be her only gift.  I asked her how many times her cheap earphones had been taken at school.  Twice.  Then I thought about how angry I would be if we bought her $250 EarPods and they were taken in, say, February.  I think I would be pretty frustrated.  So we gave her a few small gifts and some money.  If you want to spend that much on a tiny little item, feel free.  She ended up buying $40 ones from Amazon.





Maggie turned nine in August.  She is living this year in the '90s, a scrunchie (or two) around her wrist and choker around her neck.

In July, she asked to cut her hair to her chin.  I watched a youtube video to get the technique right.  In September, Penelope asked for her hair to be cut just like Maggie's.  Maggie sat in her oversized Ed Shearen pajama t-shirt, and cried in Stephen's arms.  To be copied was devastating.

At the beginning of second grade, I wondered aloud to her teacher if dyslexia was playing a part in her reading challenges.  She made huge strides that year, but was still struggling with some letter combinations.  Her teacher just recently tested her to give us more information about where she was at risk.

Her emotional life feels very similar to my own.  She wants people to see that she needs help without always asking.  When something doesn't come easily, she becomes frustrated and quickly angry.  She'll dash out of a room with tears in her eyes and slam her door.  When you say something deeply true about her, she will begin to cry, I suspect, with relief that she is being seen and fear of being exposed and vulnerable.

In November, she came downstairs to say, "Mom, I can't bend my thumb."  It was the same week the dentist said, "She really needs to see an orthodontist." and the same week the eye doctor reminded, "it's time for your next appointment."  So we took a medical tour that led to outpatient surgery and braces.  A first for us as parents.

She's drawing.  Portraits.  Right now, she is having an eye period.  Last night, she was telling me how she understood God's seven days of creation through the eyes of an artist.  You start with a concept and come back daily to add details.


Julian turned thirteen in October.

Parenting tip...puberty requires a larger clothing budget.  He told me recently that I should buy him only black pants for school.  "It's simpler to have all the same color.  Also, they don't show dirt as easily."

As a thirteen year old, we are diligently trying to help him create a habit of hanging up his towel.  Also, we are introducing him to the oven and stove.  Tackling the fine art of frozen pizza, mac and cheese, and one pot spaghetti.

He's a really sweet big brother to Penelope.  She sits on his lap or his shoulders and watches youtube.  They play video games together.  She urges him to "go easy on me".  Lately, being a big brother to Maggie has looked like tackling and fake punching her back.  Less sweet, but Maggie seems to like the pseudo affection.

Our friend Billy who occasionally teaches the kids lesson always tells Julian to give me a hug.  So he obeys.

He's going on an Art Club trip in June to South Dakota.  We had to find different ways for him to earn money besides sitting on a city corner playing the ukulele.  We had a yard sale, and he worked to price items and haul what was left over to Goodwill.  He sat outside on our stoop, drinking coffee, and peddling used goods.  He likes coffee.



March 2020
Schroeder turns eleven today.  His birthday looks a little different due to our coronavirus quarantine.  Breakfast delivered instead of out with Dad, and a virtual happy birthday sing along instead of a party.  

I asked him what life was like for him this past year.  He said school is harder than it's ever been.  He's currently working on his exhibition project, a culminating project to finish out his elementary years.  He selected the challenging topic of police brutality.  This is my third time supporting a fifth grader through this project.  In February, a first time parent asked me what to expect.  My response was, "Most of it is completed in school and is supported by the teacher."  That is proving to not be true this time.  

It is interesting...even beautiful...though, supporting a child as he learns to research and take a position on a hard topic for the first time.  

In November, Schroeder decided to run the Monumental 5k.  He got up before sunrise on a super cold Fall morning and ran through the streets of our city in his thermal leggings.  I cried when he crossed the finish line.  No one in our family had ever done something like that before.  I was so moved that he would have the courage to try something hard and new all on his own.  

He has lots of little hobbies.  He learned to solve ALL the rubix cubes...cube ones, triangular ones, ones with a million sides.  It's all he asked for for Christmas.  He rides around the house on his ripstick, getting more and more bold with his speed.  He got a new scooter for his birthday because he wants to learn some jumps.  We also got him a helmet and pads.  




May 2020
Penelope turned seven at the end of May.  

She finished her last three months of second grade learning from home due to coronavirus.  She took a heads down, get 'er done approach.  She got on clever at 9:45, did her math and reading and extra activities and moved on with the day.

"It's official everyone in our house can read."  I made this declaration one night at dinner.  After ten years, I'm so relieved to be past this stage of parenting. Penelope's reading EXPLODED this winter, and I give all the credit to her kindergarten and first grade teachers.  

Penelope started hip hop club this year after not wanting to join anything as a kindergartner.  In February, her coach asked me if she is enjoying herself as she tends to have a very serious look on her face.  My response was, "Yes, she enjoys it quite a bit.  Don't worry, she didn't smile at me the whole first year of life."

She is a gamer.  She asked for her own pro controller for the switch for her birthday (And also a super soft blanket and stuffed animal.)  She told me recently that Schroeder is her favorite sibling.  She said, "We play together and like the same things.  If we were the same age we would basically be twins."

Penelope tends to disappear when chores start to happen.  I have to say, "Don't talk like a baby." at least once a day.  But when she scrunches up her nose, she has the cutest nose wrinkles.  

We recently decided to leave our church of ten years, the same church we showed up to with Penelope in an ergo carrier when she was 40 hours old because I'm ridiculous.  I read a statement to the church on our zoom meeting at 11:30am.  Then, at 4pm that evening, Penelope looked at me and she said, "I really like our old church because it didn't have that many people.  A new church is going to have SO many people." She started crying.  The type of crying where you can't catch your breath for several minutes.  I felt like Penelope showed me exactly who she was in that moment...a little shy and easily overwhelmed in light of change.  






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