Seaside Vacation: Day 1

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Here we go! A four-hour drive followed, and although he looked extremely droopy and ready for a nap, Benji did great. He loved seeing all the trucks on the freeway.

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We made it, and it was sunny and warm (as warm as the Oregon coast ever gets)! Benji went straight down for a 4-hour nap, and Ian and I left my parents to watch the house while we checked out the beach. It was still there.

After nap time, we took Benji to the beach. Initially we set up a long ways from the water, thinking he’d just want to play in the sand. How wrong we were! He insisted on walking all the way to the water, and then spent a long time wading and scooping at the water with a shovel.

He did dig in the sand some, but every time his hands got gritty, had to dash over and rinse off in the ocean. …Which only made more sand stick later. We have a lot still to learn about beaches.

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Construction Joy

Yesterday Benji and I went for a walk in the morning. On our way was the former site of a gigantic nursery, now (surprise!) being turned into a vast housing complex. While my enthusiasm for this project in general is minimal – I dread the added traffic congestion and increased student load on Benji’s future elementary school – at the moment I can’t imagine a project more thrilling to Benji.

We walked a little way along an offroad path that parallels this construction site and found a safe, quiet spot where Benji could get out of the stroller and see standing up by himself. (This didn’t, however, stop him from wanting to be held up the entire time. Isometric exercises?) Here’s what we saw.

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Yes, that’s a huge dump truck dumping a load of tree debris right in front of us. Most of the action was far away, and although Benji seemed to see just fine, this dump truck moment elicited a constant stream of excited babbling. Here’s a link to a video I took: https://flic.kr/p/oxgxx9

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This was the view in general. It’s hard to make out in the picture, but we watched two bulldozers moving dirt, a digger, dump trucks dump two loads, and one claw-ended digger thing carrying tree parts around. I finally made us leave because we had a playdate with friends, but it was like tearing a cover from a book. We spent the rest of the day on and off recounting, with great excitement, everything we’d seen.

Boy, life’s thrilling when you’re almost two. Actually, recently Ian commented to me on how Benji feels strongly enough about things to actually feel heartbroken when they don’t work out. Yes, to us, they’re unimportant; grown-ups don’t deeply value putting truck cans and trailers together, or eating apricots, but to Benji, these things matter. When was the last time I let myself feel this strongly, about anything at all? I shield myself from hurt and disappointment by not letting myself feel deeply about anything at all. It’s a defensive strategy we all use, I think. But I’m coming to suspect that our adult lives are poorer for it, since eliminating feeling deep pain means sacrificing feeling deep joy, too.

And if I’ve learned one thing from Benji so far, it’s that life offers moments of joy constantly. We get to choose whether accepting the risk of embracing those feelings is worth the pain. I hope I can be brave enough to live with the same delight I see Benji finding in life.

Playing with filters

I got a new phone last week. We agonized for a long time, but the decision was validated when I made a few calls and every one, the recipient commented on the dramatically improved call quality.

Anyway, a bonus is a theoretically improved camera and an absurd number of filters and photo editing options. I’m going to try to take some slightly more artistic shots (ie, of a subject other than my son) and see how they turn out.

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Back Yard Work: Day 6

Finally caught up to present day! Today was all finishing digging post holes – at last! – and building and raising the remaining posts.

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I don’t have a picture of this, but it was extremely cute the way Benji “helped” screw down the bolts. The first time, I gave him his toy wrench, he watched Jim doing it, and then he started wrenching on the already-done bolt. For the next one, Benji went and got the wrench himself when it was time to screw down the bolts. Learning from observation!

Back Yard Work: Days 3, 4, and 5

Wednesday: Continue digging post holes (like I said, an arduous process), finish replacing siding that had to be removed during stair area demo. …In retrospect, I may be getting some of this a little out of order. Never mind, it’s all close.

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Thursday: Continue digging post holes (I think I mentioned this isn’t a trivial undertaking), cut ends into decorative shape, start staining lumber. Some of the long cross pieces are back-ordered until at least July 30, which means this project won’t truly be done for quite a while. But anyway, stain what we’ve got.

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Friday: Start building post potion of trellis. Put three posts up, tacked in place with nails and braced with scrap wood.

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Meanwhile, Benji and Mommy supervise and provide snacks.
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Back Yard Work: Days 1 and 2

This year Ian and I designated some money for home improvement. After paying a family friend/landscape designer, Becky Carlson, to help us make a first draft of a plan for the yard, we decided to replace the fence and add a trellis to our back porch.

We used a company called Fence Connection for the fence, and they did a reasonable job. That finished up the week after July 4.

For the trellis we hired another family friend and general contractor, Jim Andrilenas. He began work last Monday. I’ve been taking pictures along the way. Here’s how it’s gone so far.

Monday: Begin demolishing the deck railing, begin digging hole for stairs, begin building stairs.

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Tuesday: Continue building stairs, finish demolishing railing, start digging post holes (an arduous process, I know from painful personal experience). Benji warmed up to Jim enough to start giving him helpful pointers.

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Meanwhile, Benji and I play with Grammy and Grandpa one day, and go visit friends the next.
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Dulcius Ex Asperis