Ollie Update

Battle Baby

Oliver is afraid to go downstairs by himself. Who can blame him? I sure as heck didn’t want to go into the basement at my house when I was little. Unfortunately, his bedroom is down there so he has to go down there about 30 times a day. “Oliver, you forgot your socks.” “Oliver, put all of this stuff away.” “Oliver, that’s enough, go to your room.”

I tried giving him different strategies, like “try singing a song” or “maybe take this fierce dinosaur stuffed animal with you” but he wasn’t having it. For some reason, he has decided that none of that is sufficient.

However, he spontaneously came up with his own solution. Out of nowhere, he decided the only thing that can protect him is this sweet little stuffed baby, which he has dubbed “Battle Baby”.

Behold the might of Battle Baby! Look upon it’s terror and weep!


When things get particularly dangerous he grabs the strap at the top of Battle Baby’s hat and swings it around like nunchucks. I’m not sure how Battle Baby feels about using her body to batter his enemies, but hey! At least he can go downstairs without accompaniment. I mean, look, I’m not sure why he’s decided this baby can keep him safe, but he’s happy, I’m happy.

Kids, man. Kids.

Missing: two front teeth


Oliver has lost his two front teeth and, in exchange, has instead acquired the MOST. ADORABLE. lisp.

This picture looks a little familiar…looks like he is just a shade ahead of his sister:

They grow up so fast

So most of you probably saw this video from over a week ago now, but I’m saving it here for posterity:

With all the new stuff that Alex is getting up to, it’s easy to forget that the other kids are growing up too!

Ollie in particular just suddenly seems so old all of a sudden. I went to get him out of class early one day for a doctors appointment and I just had to laugh. He’s in real school now! They were doing math, and then when I got there he took care of his math notebook and I was just like, “Wow, he’s like a real kid!”

In fact, Evelyn had some multiplication flash cards the other day, and Ollie was pretty dang good at them.

He has gotten so good at reading all of a sudden. I remember this with Evelyn too, but it’s like he just got to that point where he realized that there’s writing everywhere, and he can read it. He’s reading billboards, the backs of cereal boxes, and addresses on Christmas cards. It’s like a whole new world! It’s so much fun to listen to him read an Elephant and Piggie book.

He’s also a very detailed artist. He can sit and draw for HOURS, and he draws these really elaborate scenes. He loves to explain to you all the little nuances and hidden things he’s added to his drawings, and he gets very clever with them.

And if that wasn’t enough, Ollie started taking piano lessons! It seems absolutely crazy to me, but there it is. He is so excited about it! I can tell he feels grown up too; he’s very proud. And even songs like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” seem so impressive when this little boy is playing them!

Not too long now before he starts writing his own blog!

Billy Elliot Fan Art

Obviously Evelyn’s play has really stuck with Oliver, because he has taken to drawing some extremely elaborate pictures of some of the scenes.

For example:

What you see here are striking miners and police (plies). The miners are holding signs like “not enough $”, “not enough protection”, and, of course “not a naf brts”.

I said, “Not enough birds?” (you get pretty good at guessing these things after you’ve seen enough of it). Ollie said, “When the birds die, the miners know it’s not safe. So I guess that one is the same as ‘not enough protection’.”

Not enough birds indeed.

The bottom is the lyrics of the song accompanying that scene:

solidarity, solidarity
solidarity for ever
all for one, one for all
solidarity forever

I had forgotten about that picture altogether, when I came across this one a week or so later:


My first guess was (naturally) someone killing a zombie, but then I followed the arrow and flipped the picture over…


And you can OBVIOUSLY SEE it is not a zombie who has been shot in the head coming to terrorize frightened children, but rather Tony, his face bloodied by a run in with the cops, accidentally frightening the ballet girls, who run to Mrs. Wilkinson for comfort. And of course the miners are chanting, “Scab! Scab! Scab!” at those who chose to cross the picket line.

Ollie did see the show twice, but even so I’m kind of surprised at how much some of these images have stuck with him. These are definitely specific scenes from the show, and it’s interesting which parts call to him. He doesn’t, for example, draw Billy’s triumphant dream sequence dance. No, it’s all bloody miners and police brutality.

I do kind of wish he wouldn’t draw them at school, though.

1st day of school, 2016


Portrait of a 3rd grader and a 1st grader

Yesterday was the first day of school, and the kids were pretty excited. For Ollie, it was not just starting 1st grade, but having a new teacher and new classmates (he’s been in a looping class for the last 3 years). For Evelyn it was moving to an entirely new set of buildings, and adding new kinds of classes (particularly French).

Neither kid has ever had any particular issues with separation anxiety (now THAT’S an understatement!) so there weren’t any first day jitters. In fact, all Evelyn wanted to know is when she could start walking to school by herself, now that she’s in a different building.


Just to make sure the day wasn’t entirely pedestrian, Oliver went ahead and lost his FIRST tooth on the FIRST day of FIRST grade!


By the time they got home today, everything was old hat and they hardly had anything to say about the day. In other words, after a long summer, things are back to normal.

The Legend of Shark Tooth

Ollie is going to be starting 1st grade pretty soon here, and he hasn’t lost a single tooth. Every once in a while we say, “Anything loose yet?” and he’ll say, “Well, some of them are a little loose.”

Until the day we discovered that he’s just going to go ahead and grow a second row, like a shark:

shark tooth

He certainly has the appetite of a great white, so why not the teeth?

Father’s Day Part 2

Last week I mentioned the special father’s day activity that Evelyn planned for me, and this weekend it was Oliver’s turn.

He and Sara had secretly planned a one-night camping trip, just for the two of us.


Unbeknownst to me, they had made reservations and hidden all of the camping stuff in Ollie’s closet (which Ollie had helpfully labeled “KEEP OUT”). In fact, the day before Sara had sent me to the grocery store to get hotdog buns, and I still had no clue. 🙂 When I opened the envelope on Saturday morning containing my instructions, I kept saying, “Really?”

It turns out that there is an honest to goodness campground inside Cook County. Who knew? It’s called Shabbona Woods and it was actually quite lovely, especially for our purposes.

We had a lovely campsite, hotdogs, smores, and a couple of miles of hiking trails. Perfect!


In fact, perhaps we had a little TOO many smores, because Ollie was a bundle of energy. Even after I made him run laps around the campsite, he still had no desire to go to sleep. I told him a story, and then he told me a story, during which I promptly fell asleep. Then he quized me on parts of his story and then said, “Let’s keep going back and forth, telling each other stories!” I was like, “Uh…I don’t think so,” and he said, “Do you want to run a mile??”


But the REAL story of our trip was the story of the incomparable Buddy. Let me tell you about Buddy, the most wonderful firefly that ever lived.


It turns out that Ollie has never seen fireflies before. We don’t have them in Chicago, and when we’re camping, he is usually in bed before they come out. Naturally, he was enthralled; not so much by the glowing, but more on how easy they are to catch. They just sort of hover slowly at 6 year old eye-level, and even if they escape they go right back to hovering in front of you.

So this particular firefly was just sort of hanging out on his hand, and I made the mistake of throwing out a comment, “Oh hey, I think this one likes you!”

*Boom*, Ollie was smitten. Suddenly he had his life all laid out: he and Buddy were going to live together forever, travel the world, possibly fight crime… Buddy was suddenly the best friend he ever had. Periodically I would say, “Eventually you’re going to have to let Buddy go…” and he would scream “NO!” at me.

Unfortunately, during a game of release-and-catch they were playing, Buddy made a break for it and escaped into the woods.

Desolated does not describe the way Ollie felt. I am talking the absolute depths of despair here. He was inconsolable. Somehow he had so internalized the “this one likes you” that he couldn’t believe that Buddy had left him. In panic, I asked if he wanted to call mommy and tell her about Buddy, but he was crying so hard he couldn’t even talk.

I kind of thought it would be over soon, but every few minutes he would remember his good friend Buddy and start wailing anew. “Buddy!” he cried into the woods. “BUUUUUDDDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!” I don’t know how many times he asked me if he would ever see Buddy again.

Even the next day, he was still crying about it. We were leaving and he sobbed, “I saw a flash from the woods, but I don’t think it was Buddy. I think Buddy told the other fireflies to watch over me, and they were letting me know Buddy was okay.”

He even told me that he was going to write to Santa and ask to be reunited with Buddy. ::sigh:: What is it with this boy and testing the limits of Santa’s magic?