Oh, That’s Saturday

Thanks to Ian, I get to spend most of every Saturday biking. It’s the part of the week I finally don’t worry about anything harder than not getting dropped. It helps keep me sane. I ride on Saturdays rain or shine, heat or cold; the only exception is extreme wind or ice.

The other exception is when I’m sick. This week wasn’t my best for health: On Tuesday I got a cold from Benji. But I spent all of Wednesday, the Fourth, lounging in bed watching Netflix (thanks, Ian!), and by Thursday I felt much better. Friday I planned to do the usual Saturday ride, maybe albeit a little slower than usual.

Then, on Friday night, I got some kind of what I suspect to be food poisoning. It wasn’t pretty for about four hours there, is all I’m going to say about that. After which I went to sleep (it was the middle of the night, naturally) and woke up feeling normal. Definitely some kind of food poisoning, but to be on the cautious side, I decided to move my ride from Saturday to Sunday.

It was then decided (to use passive voice for its intended purpose, which is obscuring how/and who) that Ian would get a little mini-vacation day, while I took Benji. Thus it was that I got to see what normal people might do with a Saturday, given the whole day in which to achieve…uh…achievements.

Okay, let’s not get hung up on the use of “normal”; moving along, let’s instead get to the point of the post, which is this list of things I got done on Saturday:

  • Sort through a bunch of old clothes and bag a bunch up for Goodwill.
  • Wash a ton of dishes left from Friday night. It was a lot.
  • Drop Ian off at the place where he was going to hang out and do some stuff by himself.
  • Take Benji to Hillcrest Bakery for a little treat (where he ate the entirety of an enormous chocolate croissant, but only after agonizing between that and an apple fritter the size of his head).
  • Go grocery shopping with Benji. He stuck with me most of the time, but we went by the kids’ room where there’s a super nice attendant who will watch your kids while you shop, and he wanted to go in to play. So I finished up without him. When I came back to pick him up, he said, “Oh no, it’s time to go already?!” Then he started negotiating about when he’d get to come back.
  • Pick up CSA veggies and do the CSA kids’ garden. Benji also found a rainbow array of glass chips in the parking lot of the CSA parking lot, which is graveled with a ton of glass chips. I don’t know where they get them, but they aren’t sharp anymore. He did that, and then he picked some carrots and beets and a zucchini in the kids’ garden. Learning moments: Those squash plants are prickly! Also, to pull veggies, you need to grip at the base of the stem, near the dirt, rather than at the top of the leaves.
  • Put away all the food and wash a bunch of the veggies (although I did save the lettuce for Ian).
  • While also getting Benji some lunch, make two loaves of zucchini bread to use up the zucchini ASAP. To use up everything we got, I put in twice the amount of shredded zucchini, and the recipe turned out just fine–if anything, moister and more tasty than usual.
  • Make teriyaki sauce for the first time (easy) and start marinating some meat for today’s dinner. Hope that turns out okay!
  • During quiet time, wash dishes from the zucchini bread and eat lunch.
  • Mow front yard… it’s really mow the weeds, as the grass has stopped growing for the summer. We don’t water and I always look forward to the grass dying so we don’t have to mow any more. I’m sure our neighbors love this strategy.
  • Start weeding front yard. It may be dry, but that doesn’t stop the weeds from growing… and boy howdy, do they grow. There’s still a lot to do. While I was finishing that up, Ian got home from his adventures.
  • Take Benji to Bridle Trails for a 3-mile, zucchini bread-powered hike with Grammy and Papa Gary. As a bonus, we found ripe salmonberries, huckleberries, and some tiny native blackberries. Yummy!
  • Get leftovers together for dinner, probably the easiest part of the day. After that, Ian took Benji for a bubble bath and bedtime, and I collapsed on the couch for a couple episodes of Queer Eye (more on that another time).

Apparently that’s what I can do with a whole uninterrupted day. I can definitively say that if I wasn’t gone for 4 to 6 hours every Saturday, our house and yard would look much nicer, we’d have a lot more baked goods around, and–most difficult of all–I’d be able to give Ian a better break, plus get more quality time with my child.

Well, as time goes by, we keep finding a new balance for what works for us. I guess the thing about balance is you don’t just get it and you’re done. It’s a process that requires constant work and adjustment. On a bike, if you aren’t constantly making tiny tweaks (and sometimes large swerves, depending!), you’re going to tip over. Maybe that’s also true in life.

Mommying

Here’s what being Mommy looks like.

It looks like waking up at 3 am and staying up the rest of the night to hold and comfort your child as he repeatedly vomits. While he’s sitting in your lap, leaning over the toilet, you’re holding his head. Between bouts of vomiting, he murmurs, “I’m glad you’re here, Mommy.”
(No picture.)

It looks like playing the Hero Kids RPG at 6:30 am on Saturday, with Daddy GMing and Benji and I as characters. You work together to defeat a were-wolf, avoiding spiders and killing lots of wolves. During the game, your child takes a whole turn to bring your character up to full health, because he’s very worried that your character is injured.
Hero Kids: Adventure 2

It looks like going for walks in the woods together every week, rain or shine. You find a surprise patch of daffodils blooming in the woods, see innumerable trilliums and other native flowers, and avoid lots of horse droppings. But most fun of all is playing in the creek that’s really 6″ of mud with 1″ of water on top, poking it with sticks, building dams, and dropping big rocks in to make craters that fill in. On your walks, he wants to hold your hand no matter how narrow the trail.
Bridle Trails Walk: Daffodils

Bridle Trails Walk: Muddy Creek

It looks like staying home with your sick child when he has a cold, then getting the cold yourself — and then having the cold turn into the second round of pneumonia you’ve gotten in two years.
3 Generations of Face Masks

And this happens on the first week of the year it’s truly lovely — in the 70s and sunny — right when you’re about to start ramping up riding for Bike Everywhere month and the longer summer ride season. The pneumonia means you’ll miss at least a week of work and you won’t be able to help much with the child, which is real unfortunate, because this is the week all the grandparents and the regular after-school childcare are all unavailable.

Being Daddy, meanwhile, looks like trying to work as much as possible while also taking on Mommy’s jobs and all the after-school childcare.

Nobody promised parenting would be easy. It’s just the mixed-in moments of joy that make all the other moments worth it.

But I really am tired of pneumonia. Honestly.

Based on the recovery time last go-round, it’s probably ended my biking season plans before I even got to start them. I’ll spend the summer just trying to build back up to where I was last week, without any real hope of getting faster, doing the long rides I love, or keeping up with my biking buddies. I have to accept this reality and kiss goodbye the hopes and expectations I had for the season.

And that’s just biking! I have deadlines at work that I should be moving towards, projects and release-related stuff to write. It’s not going to be pretty.

It’s hard.

Easter-Time Happenings

Happy Easter! Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I was thankful to spend the first half of the day with a group of my biking friends doing a super hard ride. I don’t know why it felt so much harder than previous rides, but I felt like I got a great workout… at least, I trust that’s what that leg-burning feeling means.

I also accidentally gave myself a chainring tattoo, which didn’t wash off in the shower. I figured would look real great with my skirt at church on Easter.
Chainring Tattoo
Luckily I had some dark nylons that hid it pretty well, I think.

After Benji got up from quiet time, he and I met my friend Ellen and her Norwegian buhund Lakka at Bridle Trails. We had one of our nicest Bridle Trails walks to date, having such a good time that we walked all the way from one end of the park to the other, a good two hours in the woods. The extra daylight has really helped out with this activity.

Bridle Trails with Benji, Ellen, and Lakka

On the walk, we saw our first trillum of the season… and then lots more! I love trillium; they are so delightfully Washington.
Bridle Trails Trillium

We also helped Lakka practice lots of tricks, and Benji practiced doing those tricks, too. He’s decided he wants to be a dog, which I’m okay with because he’s far more obedient as a dog than as a kid.
Benji and Lakka: all the way up
This was Lakka and Benji practicing “all the way up,” the command to get up on a log.

Benji and Lakka: find it
Benji hid a piece of cheese in a woodpecker hole and told Lakka, “find it!” Which she did, with alacrity.

All in all, an excellent, if exhausting, day.

Sunday proved no less tiring, but also nice enough. Benji and I started the day with “empty tombs” — donuts with donut holes on top. You remove the donut hole and voila! There’s nothing inside, just like when Jesus rose from the dead!

Here’s our family looking real classy at the photo booth after church.
Easter 2018

And, despite cold temperatures and spitting rain, Benji participated in the church Easter egg hunt, where he got a super-extra-bonus egg. Thank goodness most of the eggs didn’t have candy.
Easter Egg Hunt Prize

After quiet time, we went over to my parents’ house for an Easter dinner with Ian’s parents and grandparents. It was nice. Benji even ate some stuff.

And, last but not least, I came up with an April Fool’s joke that continues to amuse me. I did a test run on our bananas…
April Fool's Googly Eyes 1

…and then I was able to do it to mom and dad’s fruit without them noticing (at least, until someone pointed it out).
April Fool's Googly Eyes 2

Viral Activities

No, I’m not talking about the next activity everyone’s going to be doing on the internet; I’m talking about literally what you do when when you’re five and a half and you have a fever over 102 for six days. You:

  • Watch at least three hours of videos or movies a day.
  • Eat rainbow Jell-O, popsicles, “Awesome sauce,” and donuts.
    Sick: Rainbow Jell-O
  • Fight taking ibuprofen, then perk up when it works.
  • Cuddle with Daddy.Sick: Snuggle with Daddy
  • Sleep.

When you feel a little better, you:

  • Build a bird’s nest out of a beanbag chair, pillows, and blankets.
    Less Sick: Bird's Nest
  • Color with chalk because it’s not raining.
    Less Sick: Sidewalk Chalk
  • Command Daddy to freehand a map of Europe for you on the blackboard.
    Less Sick: Map of Europe
  • Create your own bus schedules.
    Less Sick: Bus Schedule 1Less Sick: Bus Schedule 2

When you’re Mommy, while Daddy draws Europe and Benji creates a bus schedule, you draw flags (another interest that has coincided with his increasing interest in geography). This includes my favorite, the Rainbow Unicorn flag. Cuz what country wouldn’t want a rainbow unicorn on their flag? Only monsters.
Rainbow Unicorn Flag
Lastly, when you’re the parents of a five and a half-year-old who just had a high fever for the last six days, you wash your hands until they’re dry and raw, and you pray devoutly that your immune system can stave off whatever the kid had. Because no way do you want to spend the next week in bed binge-watching Netflix when there’s work to be done.

Disappointment and Worry

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Through petitions and praises, turn worry into prayer, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything working together for good, will come in and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it up, friends, I’d say you’d do best by filling your minds and meditate upon things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, and gracious–the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse… –Philippians 4:6-8

Over the last few weeks I’ve been memorizing these verses, so if some of the words are slightly off, that’s why. There’s some more that I haven’t yet memorized, but the part I have memorized has been valuable to keep meditating on, given the last couple weeks.

So you know I had a good solid fail at work last Friday. I’ve gotten over it, mostly, except for a lingering feeling of inadequacy and misery, a feeling I know from prior experience will go away with time. We were really looking forward to this week, though, and here’s what we had planned:

Monday and Tuesday were normal. Then, on Wednesday, Mom would pick Benji up from school early and the two of them would fly to California for a five-day trip visiting my Nana and sister and brother-in-law. I can’t even describe how eagerly Ian and I anticipated this reprieve. Whole days of caring only for ourselves! Time to spend together! Time to spend alone!

I also looked forward to getting to work at 6:20 those extra days to get a lot accomplished towards the upcoming release, which is next Thursday, the 22nd. Because of some factors outside my control, I’ve had less time than usual at work to get my release documentation written, and I really looked forward to the extra time… and to not worrying about what time I left work.

Normally I’m constantly torn between trying to eke as much time at home with Benji as I can, and, on the other hand, equally eking out as much time at work as I can so I can get my tasks done. The same is true every time I go out for a ride: balancing the time at home with Benji vs. riding time. I really eagerly anticipated having this pressure taken away for even just a few days.

Then on Monday Benji came down with a high fever–101 under his armpit. I ended up meeting Ian and Benji at the ER, but we didn’t end up staying to be seen. Instead, we headed home to just wait and see what happened.

What happened was, so far, two more days of relentless fever and lethargy. All Benji wants to do is lay on the couch; if the ibuprofen is working, he’ll watch a video; if it’s wearing off, he just wants to lay quietly and be left alone. Just having someone nearby is enough.

It walks like the flu, it quacks like the flu; I think it’s the flu. I didn’t get him a flu shot this year because I was at work and I kept forgetting. Now I’m kind of regretting that, even though I know the flu shot is only minimally effective this year. Regardless, now we’re in the middle of it, and we have to ride this bronco until it throws us.

Benji is miserable, and I feel very sorry for him. I know that feeling very well, and I’m so sorry he has to go through it. He’s hanging in there, though, and subsisting primarily on the “awesome sauce” apple sauce he got for Valentine’s Day from one of the teachers (delivered to us by the generous Nana delivery service).

But what this means is that instead of getting extra time on our own, we’ve instead taken away from even the usual amount of time. Instead of bonus time, we’ve…what’s the opposite of bonus? We’ve got minus time, I guess. Because so far Ian’s taken one day off work to stay with Benji, and I’ve taken one day off work to stay with Benji, and now Ian’s taking a second day off today… and what do you think are the odds that I’ll be taking Friday off?

Remember that release I have looming in a week? And all that writing I need to do to be ready for it? Take away two work days from my prep time, and I’m really starting to feel the pressure.

Plus, what do you think the odds are that Ian and I will both be able to remain healthy and flu-free after caring for Benji this week? And when would we start getting sick? That’s right: middle of next week, right about the time of my release.

  • If Ian gets sick, I’ll have to pick up the slack, and that means I can’t be at work on release night until 7:00 or 8:00 pm.
  • If I get sick, I know from having the flu before that I’ll be wiped out for a solid seven to 10 days, with a much longer time to full recovery. There goes not only my release, but also all the hard work I’ve put in biking for the last year as I recovered from pneumonia last December.

It’s pretty hard to displace worry with Christ at the center of my life right now, I’m not gonna lie.

 

Fail

When Benji takes a spelling test and misses one spelling word, he says he’s failed. When he tries to draw a picture and makes a mistake, he crumples up the entire sheet, no matter how long he’s spent on it up to that point, and throws it away. When he does something that requires a consequence, when the consequence is done, he sometimes says he should have more consequence because it makes him feel better. When I told him, “Nobody’s perfect,” he said, “But we can get really close.

In short: Our kid is a budding perfectionist. This worries me, because I know very well the pain and suffering that comes from expecting perfection from yourself.

On Thursday evening, while Benji spent the night at my parents’ house, Ian and I spent some time talking about our strategy for what to say or do when these episodes arise. I hope we can help Benji learn to accept his imperfections before he spends an entire school career, let alone the rest of his life, seeking after an impossible standard.

So you know how people use the word “ironic” wrong constantly? Well, I’ve got a case of real irony for y’all.

On work nights when Benji does a sleepover somewhere else, I usually get up at my normal time and catch a very early bus. Think 5:50 am. I get to work about 6:20 am, a commute about 50% faster than when I catch the 7:15 bus. I like getting to work that early because it’s quiet (there’s actually one other lady there, who also takes that same bus) and I can get a lot done in the couple hours before the majority of people arrive.

That’s what I did Friday morning. Unfortunately, I had some technical slowdowns (you can’t rush those Microsoft updates), but just about the time I was getting ready to actually start doing some work, my boss called my cell phone. It was about 7:00.

Long story short, the release notes I wrote that we deployed to production the previous night contained a screenshot that included personally identifying information (PII)–in this case, most of several account numbers, client names, and transaction information. This information appeared in a sample screenshot I’d taken from the technical specifications written by the Project Manager.

Well, &*&^#*%$#@. That’s what I call a big mistake.

In fact, it’s close to the worst thing I, personally, could do in my current job capacity.

It came to our attention because the firm whose client data that was saw it and flipped their lid. Understandable. This information went to… well, pretty much everyone in management at the company. The Managing Director of our division was already talking to my boss, who’s the VP of User Education, and my boss was now calling me.

Delightful. Now the Managing Director, who presumably didn’t know I existed before today, not only knows I exist but knows I really screwed up bad.

My boss had already logged on and deleted the screenshot from the server, so anyone opening the release notes would just see a broken picture icon rather than the image. There then followed a very long period of first me, then my senior technical writer coworker, then my boss scrambling around trying to solve some related issues.

I won’t get into any more of the details, but I got to really decide: What do I do when I make a mistake? Because that’s exactly what we’ve been wanting to help Benji deal with, and now I get to apply that very stuff in a grownup situation.

What did I do?

  1. I went into a little phone booth room and cried. A lot. Because it was only 7:15 am, and nobody else was around. Although, I’ll be honest, I cried again later after my boss talked with me. That wasn’t the funnest experience I’ve had. I tried to be normal the rest of the day, but I wasn’t. It was tough to work. But I did keep reminding myself that it was a mistake, my value doesn’t change because of it.
  2. I ate, even though I didn’t feel like it.
  3. I did what I could to fix the mistake. Which wasn’t much.
  4. I will not make that mistake again. I imagine that next week we’ll have a meeting to talk about how we, as a writing team, can change our processes to catch these kinds of mistakes in the future.
  5. I went to bed at 7:15 pm.

Ultimately, I don’t feel I did a great job with my response. But I’m going to let the guilt, shame, and recriminations go and keep doing my job to the best of my ability.

Continue reading “Fail”