Friday, March 20, 2020

Chalking up friendship (and bike riding)

Today we all got dressed. Into clothes.

I know. Weird, right?

We spent a good chunk of the afternoon outside with our bikes (and then later with sidewalk chalk). The kids kept complaining that it was so hot but it felt nice to me—even a little cool with the breeze—so I was shocked when I checked the temperature to find that we were approaching 80°F! We were even warmer than Hawaii today (at least where Uncle Patrick was) and were much warmer than Auntie Abra or Uncle David who live where spring is still a distant dream.

You know that saying "it's like riding a bike," and how it's supposed to mean that once you know how to do something you'll never forget how to do it? Well, I'm not sure I completely believe that saying because I had to re-teach Benjamin how to ride his bike. Teaching him to ride his bike was somewhat challenging for...both of us...and we were both so happy when he finally learned how. He rode around our Spanish Fork neighbourhood as much as he could but then we moved.

And we left his bike behind because it was a piece of junk.

And then we bought him a new piece-of-junk bike after we got here, but it was a bit bigger and it's a lot hillier around here than it was in Utah and he was so intimidated by it (and I was so frustrated with his reluctance to get on it) that I gave up trying to get him to ever ride it.

But today I stood my ground and made him relearn how to ride. It took a lot of patience and tenacity from both of us, but we finally got him back in the saddle and once he committed to actually trying it was...just like riding a bicycle!

Here he is exercising his newfound freedom:

And here he is riding around with his sisters:

(I know Miriam's bike is too small; we'll work on finding her a bigger one later (her bike was free, so...we took it when it was offered (Benjamin won't ride it because it's a "girl bike" so I guess he's reached that ridiculous age, so even though I could lower the seat on Miriam's bike to make Benjamin a little closer to the ground (and then raise the seat on his bike to make Miriam a little more comfortable) he is refusing to switch bikes)). Oh, well.)

Alexander played around with wheels a little bit as well. He was so proud that he put his helmet on all by himself (but I had to switch it around because it was backwards and kept falling over his eyes):

Mostly he was terribly, terribly grumpy and followed me around screaming at me to pick him up while I was running around holding onto the back of Benjamin's bicycle seat. It was a not a good luck for us. I'm sure all of our neighbours (who are all home, you know) were staring at us like a circus.

Eventually Alexander declared he wanted to go inside to play in his room. I told him I thought that was a Very Good Idea (but warned him that no one else would be following him inside so he'd be doing that alone). He insisted he was fine with that, so I let him in and told Andrew what his plans were. Andrew said he lasted all of two minutes upstairs before he sat at the top of the steps and howled about being alone. So he got some iPad time while Daddy worked and the rest of us played outside.

When the big kids were all tuckered out from their wheel-play, they went inside to cool down (and pick through Lego; Miriam is determined to find all the bricks for Hogwarts and rebuild that while Benjamin has been going through Andrew's old Lego manuals and cobbling together creations inspired by those). Rachel, oddly, went off and practiced her viola for a long time (which was great).

That was when Alexander decided he really wanted to be outside. So he and Zoë and I spent quite a long time drawing with chalk. Zoë wanted to draw herself and then wanted to draw me on one side and Alexander on the other. She coloured herself in to match her outfit and was quite upset when Alexander messed up his portrait by colouring his pants blue when they should have been brown, so she decided he's just have to be wearing blue footie jammies and helped him colour his little chalk-self blue.

Here's Alexander telling me that "Bis colour ib ike bis colour,"* showing me the chalk and his shirt. It's blue, buddy. Say blue. *This colour is like this colour.

Things got very colourful very fast:

I especially loved the purple Alexander picked out for his hair, though Zoë did not and told him he should have chosen yellow. She also made sure to make his skin be what she called "tan," because he couldn't be all blue:

The other night at dinner the kids were arguing over Andrew's hair colour. He's blonde, but it's getting rather dark in his advancing years so some of them were saying it was brown. Zoë, getting rather sick of everyone's banter, said firmly, "His hair is beige, okay? Beige. Say it. Beige. It's a weird word but it means light brown, like tan, but beige. Weird word. Beige. Good colour. The colour of Dad's hair. Beige. Now stop."

Since we can't play with anyone else, I thought this picture of the kids interacting with their chalk counterparts was rather cute (it was rather bright looking straight up at the blue, blue sky):

And here they are, laying on top of their portraits after we'd finished colouring everything in and made grass and a frame and filled the frame with hearts:


And here's the picture of me that Zoë insisted on taking:

 And here's the finished product:

Zoë wanted to be sure I had plenty of pictures of this because there's rain on the forecast for the next little while and when she realized this was a temporary medium it about broke her heart. But a picture lasts for much, much longer than sidewalk chalk, so taking a picture of it helped.

She was such a happy, chalky mess:

I couldn't help but take a billion pictures of her with her face streaked with colours from wiping her hair out of her eyes with chalky hands.

It was such a lovely day.

It's almost hard to believe there's a catastrophic something lurking around the corner (or, in Benjamin's parlance, a catashrafil something).

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