Ian and Benji play with Benji’s birthday presents: The new rocketship astronaut visits the planet of trains and documents it for science!
Playing gets so much more fun as kids get older.
Sunday, July 26, after church:
The drummer, Jeff, let Benji try drumming on real drums with real drumsticks.
Tuesday, July 28, after Benji school:
We’ve been talking about how fire engines are a kind of cab-over truck, because the cab is over the engine. Then Benji and I actually witnessed the cab tilting forward to reveal the engine. In Benji’s words, “Mommy NEVER seen this before!” It was quite cool, to be perfectly honest.
Wednesday, July 29, Benji and I had a free day just us two.
We went to downtown Kirkland and bought croissants, then played in the Peter Kirk park for a while before going to Benji’s new nirvana, Eastside Trains (in Benji parlance, “The Train Store,” because there is only one). He wept bitterly when we had to leave, and immediately started talking about when we’d go back. This also reignited our interest in playing with trains, and the wooden train track at home has been our primary play since then.
Thursday, July 30, at The Root Connection:
Benji mowed their weeds. That’s more green biomass than we’ve seen in one place in months.
Thursday, August 6, was Benji’s last day at Kindering’s Stepping Stones program.
I brought sugar cookies in various shapes and colors to share with the class. The teachers gave Benji a candle to blow out and sang him happy birthday, and did a special song in the closing goodbye time. For our last PT, Benji got to dress up as a froggy. Benji kept saying that it was his last time there, but then saying “Next time, play with trains.” Gotta keep working on the concept of last.
I feel quite sorry that we’re done — the teachers are so wonderful, Benji loves it, and he’s made tremendous progress since starting there, especially in speech (not to mention, we eventually figured out a routine that kept us all happy that I’ll be sorry to lose). But it’s definitely time for us to move on. Benji is turning three, and about age three kids start outgrowing the Stepping Stones program. I think Benji will have a great opportunity to grow at the preschool we picked for him, especially spending time with kids who can model more advanced skills. The next month or so we’ll be in limbo, until his new preschool starts. After that, we’ll just have to figure out what our new normal looks like.
Benji will continue to receive speech therapy services through the school district, 30 minutes a week at our local elementary school. This is pretty much exactly the right amount, I’m thinking, to keep us progressing. His PT services are still up in the air. I’d like to continue his PT, to get him up to physical level with his peers, but the Kindering PT for older kids doesn’t look like it’ll work out. I’m uncertain about starting fresh at a new place, or just not worrying about it for now, so we’re kind of just waiting on that for the moment.
OK, actually, I just realized that Ian and I went to the Bellevue Arts Fair shortly before Benji was born in 2012. But this is his first one ex-utero.
We drove to the South Kirkland Park and Ride and took a bus to downtown Bellevue. This saved us the misery of trying to drive there. Like any good mom, I had us take a selfie.
We had to walk a ways from the bus stop to the fair — not super far, but with legs as short as Benji’s, it was still plenty long. Plus, he had to circle around every tree, naming them as planets: “This Mercury.” (One loop around the tree.) “This Venus.” (One loop around the next tree.) Etc. This was predicated by the fact that the trees were growing out of round iron grilles set into the sidewalk that, honestly, did look a bit planetlike, especially all lined up in a row. OK; this is probably a case of “if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” — “If you like planets, every round thing resembles planets.”
Eventually we reached the Arts Fair, and after some detours to examine the aid car and police motorcycles stationed there, we started our quest for trucks. The entire time, Benji kept stating “Benji want truck.” He wasn’t yelling, screaming, crying, or being obnoxious (other than the obnoxiousness of repetition); just firm and convicted. We looked for trucks everywhere and found them in some odd places.
After a brief diversion to play musical wooden boxes (apparently officially called tongue or slit drums; that site isn’t the people we saw at the fair), we persevered until we finally found the tiny Jake Toys booth. Jake himself was sitting patiently, doing not much. I didn’t get a picture of the booth, which was vehicle toy nirvana, but Benji finally selected a very cool truck he dubbed a “mobile crane ladder dump truck.”
Oh, this picture is taken in the lounge of the women’s bathroom at Bell Square, where Benji’s patience finally paid off and he got to actually play with his new truck for a while.
After that we did some other stuff, including spending some time watching the coolest marble maze Benji had ever seen. It was one of many such pieces a person could buy as a sculpture. Put it up instead of your TV, and you’d have endless entertainment.
I also got convinced to switch our Seattle Times subscription from Sunday only to 7 days a week; I like the Sunday paper, and it wasn’t a lot more to do all 7 days. But later I realized I probably wouldn’t actually have time to read even the sad, wasted-away version of the paper that remains, so now I have to cancel that. Plus, the free umbrella they gave us for switching turned out to be a complete dud — when I opened it, a zillion tiny pieces fell out, and it was clearly broken from the get-go. Classy.
After a brief visit to the police booth again, this time to have our banana-y snack, we realized it was raining. I started us on our way back to the bus stop, and Benji told me his ankle really, really hurt. I carried him, the dud umbrella, the wooden truck, and our bag of stuff for what felt like miles (perhaps 1/4 of a mile, if that). When we got to the stop, I realized it’d be 25 minutes until the next bus. For some reason, my mommy brain didn’t work, so instead of sinking down onto the bench and breathing a sigh of relief while waiting there, I decided to walk us to the Bellevue Transit Center to catch any number of other buses that would also work.
By the time we dragged our sorry selves there, my arms were about falling off, Benji and I were both exhausted, we were wet from the first and only rain we’ve seen in weeks, and we ended up catching the exact same bus we would’ve gotten if we’d just waited at the bus stop in the first place. Benji was just so happy to get to play with his truck, he didn’t care about anything else. I merely felt grateful to sit stationary for a while.
So, good learning experience there.
Overall, I think we did have a good time. We saw interesting art, experienced all sorts of things, and found a truck for Benji. The only things I wish I’d done differently would be to wait for the bus and not take the stupid Seattle Times subscription-and-umbrella.
Today we went over to my parents’ house and made planets.
First, we calculated relative sizes of planets, assuming Jupiter was 36″ in diameter. For reference, Pluto was about 0.2″ (sadly, too small to draw in the heart or any other newly-discovered features) and Earth was 3″. In that size system, the sun would be 360″ in diameter, so we skipped the sun.
Then, we searched all over the house to find round things the correct diameter that we could trace.
After that, we traced planets onto their correct color of construction paper and cut out the planets. Shown are Saturn (missing its rings, and an amazing checkerboard, due to lack of construction paper) with Earth sitting on it. In the foreground are Venus, Uranus, and Neptune. I’m not sure where Mars and Pluto went.
Finally, we painted the planets approximately appropriate colors.
We are still figuring out how to put these up in Benji’s room, but when they’re up we’ll have an amazing solar system.
Edit to add: We put them on the ceiling individually, using zillions of push pins. Can you see tiny Pluto, up by Neptune?
The McCurleys came over and joined us, with Colin (being a big boy) making his own set of planets.
We also had fun with other things at Nana’s house.
Benji has repeatedly told me he prefers riding in the car to riding on the bike. When asked why, he usually tells me that (a) he can see more in the car (probably not true when we use the Xtracycle); (b) I tell more stories in the car (definitely true, since I spend more time breathing hard on the bike); (c) he didn’t have to wear a helmet in the car (true).
But another reason may be that he can do more things without worrying about dropping and losing them. For example, I don’t give him books on the bike because if he drops them, they’re gone forever. In the car, not such a problem.
In other news, we’ve been doing very low-key potty training. We started with just sitting in the potty with clothes on, followed by sitting on the potty with no diaper or pants. These sessions only occurred at times when we regularly change his diaper – after getting up out before going to sleep. He quickly understood that pee or poo in the potty got him M&Ms, and started squeezing out pee to get treats, and demanding to stay on the potty longer so as to get more treats.
We took a break on our trip to California, but getting back, we’ve jumped in with both feet (not literally!), going without pants or diaper the whole time we’re home, and keeping a potty nearby at all times. Yesterday he had one time of stopping play and peeing without prompting; the rest of the day, he sat at my request but didn’t do anything. Today he had one accident on the floor, but a lot more instances of pee in the potty, too.
I’m pretty sure he knows exactly what the deal is, and how to control himself, except when he’s distracted by playing. I don’t really know how the rest will go – going out in the world, for example – but so far, he’s very cooperative (amazing what M&M bribery can buy) and shown a good understanding of where pee comes from and how to control it.
I’m so ready to have diapers out of my life and budget!