The Long Scoot

Benji loves riding a three-wheeled scooter. He rides it all over the place, accompanying us on short neighborhood walks as well as zipping around my parents’ neighborhood visiting friends. Someday he may learn to ride a bike, but for now, the scooter keeps him moving.

Yesterday afternoon, as we got ready to head over to my parents’ house for our traditional Friday pasta dinner, Ian and I facetiously suggested that Benji could scoot there. He immediately latched onto the idea. I said if he really wanted to, I’d walk with him, but he couldn’t change his mind halfway. Continue Reading >>

Pre-Algebraic Thinking

During his shower yesterday evening, Benji was playing in the warm water (like you do) and when he came out, he said, “I invented a new fun number game! I can figure out what a number is from doing complicated steps.”

I wasn’t sure what this meant, but after some discussion, it turns out he’s basically engaging in some pre-algebra thinking. He has an unknown and knows what steps were done to find it, and thus can work backward to find the unknown number.

He tried to write down what he was talking about (left) and, after explaining it, I said, “Would you like me to show you how mathematicians write that?” Yes. So I did (right). Continue Reading >>

Surfing the Web at Seven

Benji spends substantial amounts of time on the computer by himself these days. We don’t spend every minute monitoring him doing his school activities, and he likes to use One Note for playing little drawing games he narrates to himself. He could do those by hand, but One Note saves on paper and markers.

Being a fairly bright kid, he’s figured out pretty quickly that a person can search the internet to find sites of interest. Right now he searches for things like “Map of the world 1914” and similar geography-related topics. Continue Reading >>

Pandemic in Pictures: School From Home

For the last eight weeks, Benji has done school at the dining room table. Over time, school materials have slowly spread until we could no longer use the dining room table for eating.

I had a semi-brilliant idea the other day: to move a spare desk (fortunately, painted black and therefore less likely to show marker marks) from my office into Benji’s room. But his room is tiny — maybe 8 by 8 — with a bed, dresser, and bookshelf, there’s not any space left. …Except in the closet! Continue Reading >>

Learning New Things

At work, the Engineering department (read: software developers and QA people) recently reorganized into four large, overarching groups. Within each group, the smaller development teams do similar work.

Meanwhile, my team, the technical writing team, comprises two Help Center writers. Pretty naturally we each took coverage of two development groups.

This works fine, but the new development groups shuffle up some of the areas of expertise we, the technical writers, previously covered. We keep our areas of core expertise (for me, reporting, and for her, trading), but some of what I did goes to my coworker. Now, for example, my coworker takes over documenting third-part integrations, which I previously covered. Meanwhile, I pick up covering teams neither of us have ever documented — a group that does all the development for internal tools and back-end data management. Most of this content I’ll delegate to our new Knowledge Base writer, but some may be worth documenting in Help Center. Continue Reading >>

Pandemic in Pictures: Bike Selfies

Normally I don’t take pictures of my bike while I’m riding. I don’t take pictures much at all: I prefer to ride, not stop, extract my phone from my pocket and its protective plastic baggie wrapper, take a picture, put away my phone in the wrapper and then my pocket, and resume riding.

I do realize that, in the grand scheme of photography, this may be the easiest era ever to take pictures. I don’t care–it’s still more than I want to do when I’m out riding. Really it’s because I prefer to avoid stopping as much as possible, and unless a view really stuns me, I tend to just appreciate it on the fly. Continue Reading >>

April Was Poetry Month

Apparently April was Poetry Month. I know this because Benji’s library teacher has been doing a unit on poetry, having the kids write their own poems in various ways.

In one lesson, Benji went around the house and looked for words that were interesting to him or that stood out to him. He picked:


Then we had to figure out what some of those meant. At first Benji resisted looking things up in the dictionary: “Dictionaries are for BABIES!” But then I went and got the hefty two-volume Condensed Oxford English Dictionary and thumped it down. I flopped it open to reveal the tiny, dense text and super-thin pages and asked, “Is THIS a book for babies?” His dropped jaw and saucer eyes attested that he accepted that, perhaps, big kids or adults might need dictionaries too. Continue Reading >>