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”

Family Hiking in Bridle Trails

Saturday afternoon, Benji and I went out to have some Mommy-Benji time. I had an errand in downtown Kirkland, but after that I suggested we go to Marina Park, or one of the other nearby Kirkland parks. Benji adamantly insisted he wanted to go for a hike. I tried to negotiate out of it by offering to do a hike on Sunday afternoon if we just went to one of the smaller regular parks within walking distance. No dice. He wanted to hike.

After giving it some good thought, I decided that if my kid wanted to go for a hike, I should encourage that, even if I’d already parked downtown. I also remembered that Bridle Trails wasn’t that far from downtown. Okay; if he wants a hike, we’ll do a hike. And the weather was lovely: sunny and above 50.

We weren’t in the right shoes — I had on old running shoes, and Benji doesn’t even have anything appropriate for hiking in that level of mud and muck — but oh well. Then, when we got there, there was a big Seattle Running Club event where people were running a 50k in teams or solo (!), so there were also runners and their cars all over the place.

Even so, we walked for about 1.25 miles and had a nice time before the sun set.

The next afternoon, all three of us went back to Bridle Trails and ended up walking a full 3 miles, pretty decent for a 5-year-old. We all agreed to have a goal of doing a family hike every weekend, rain or shine. Benji said he wants to walk 6 miles (a 10k), so we said okay, we’ll work up to that. We shall see if we end up actually pursuing that goal, but in the meantime we have a plan of hiking the 3.5-mile loop in Bridle Trails next weekend.

Bridle Trails Walk: Family

Bridle Trails Walk: Benji

Bridle Trails: Report Off-Leash Bicycles
I saw this sign and the persnickety writer in me just couldn’t resist thinking, “What’s an off-leash bicycle??”

Merry Christmas Scenes

I don’t want to give the false impression that everything is 100% rosy and cheerful around here all the time, but Christmas Day and Christmas Eve have had some pretty great moments interspersed between the incredibly overwrought shrieking and imperious demanding most frequently propagated by our offspring.

Boy did Benji get a lot of books for Christmas. In fact, he really only got one toy, the Lego set we gave him. He also got a new backpack and lunch box, which is nice, but not exactly fun to play with.
Books for Christmas

Atlas Jigsaw Puzzle Book

Lighthouse Lego Set

Artifishial Legs

Ohmygoodness it is actually snowy on Christmas Day! What!!
Christmas Lights Under Snow

Christmas Day Snow Play

Christmas Day Snow Play: Follow My Tracks

We had planned to visit the Fergusons today to do Christmas stuff with them. That’s indefinitely on hold, in the hopes that warmer weather will make roads more passable. We want to avoid this, which is what Benji and I saw on our snowy walk this morning.
Somebody's Having a Tough Christmas
Benji: “Mommy, look! These cars are connected together!” They sure are, buddy. They sure are. And we want to avoid doing that with our brand-new car, so: Staying home is now Item 1 on the agenda!

And… I don’t always have time to do art stuff, but when I do, I like to make collages.
Christmas Collage 2017

Where Is Heaven?

This real conversation (paraphrased here) happened tonight as I said goodnight.

B: I feel scared alone upstairs. (We’ve discussed this before, numerous times.)
Me: You’re never alone. Jesus is already with you.
B: I thought Jesus was in heaven.
Me: (thinking quickly, wanting to avoid confusion about the Trinity) Jesus is everywhere.
B: Does that mean heaven is everywhere??
Me: …Ask the pastor at church next time you see him. They study this stuff in pastor school.

Bit of a cop out, but it’s amazing how quick a five-year-old gets into murky theology. I’d love to explore that, buddy, but not as part of your trying to stall going to bed.

Eating Time and Dessert Nights

My relationship with food is definitely a love/hate thing. It’s like a combination of the feeling of getting to stay up late at night when you’re a kid, the feeling of having to take some nasty pink antibiotics, and the feeling of having to mow the lawn.

Well, when Benji came along, Ian and I decided to take a stand in two areas: Sleep and food. I wanted Benji to have a healthier relationship with food than I did.

Throughout the littlest-kid years, we defended naps with the vigilance of a mother tiger over her cubs. Sleep was tough, sure, especially during sleep regressions and when we hit developmental milestones. Is it time to go from two naps to one? How do we do it? Yet, ultimately, we controlled that to a great extent. That is, we could at least control when we put Benji in his room and when he was allowed to come out: We carved out the time for healthy rest, and for the most part, he took it.

Only since school started this September has he really seemed to give up napping, and even so, he still falls asleep occasionally during “quiet time,” which we still do for at least an hour a day after lunch.

Anyway, boy, food has proved tougher. You can’t make a kid eat! Eating or not eating — from Day 1, it’s the first place that little person asserts his independence. You can’t make me eat!

Long story short, we eventually settled on offering a variety of mostly healthy foods and telling him to eat until his tummy wasn’t hungry anymore.

But over time this evolved into Benji wanting us to quantify how much food he had to eat to be done. We would suggest a number, and he’d take that many bites, no more or less.

Then it got worse as, at dinner time, the question turned into: “How many bites do I have to eat to get dessert?” No matter what we said, this always resulted in whining and negotiating, claims that no reasonable human being could eat six bites of pasta AND all the peas, we were practically monsters in parent form, etc., etc.

About a month ago, I was talking with a friend at church about this misery and she mentioned that they just have dessert nights at their house. The kids pick two nights a week when they have dessert; the other nights, they just don’t.

I loved this idea, and combined it with another idea I heard elsewhere many years ago: Serve dessert as part of dinner. It isn’t a reward, it isn’t some kind of treasure you have to dig through a pile of gross food to get to. It’s just another part of the meal: You get protein, veggies, carbs, and a little bit of something sweet — emphasis on little. Dessert should be small enough that the kid isn’t full, and still wants some real food after eating the sweet part.

We started implementing the dessert night idea immediately, and I have to say, it’s been great. We don’t negotiate anymore. If it’s a dessert night (Benji picked Monday and Friday), I give Benji dessert along with everything else on his plate. Of course he eats it first — but then he goes on to eat a pretty substantial amount of his real dinner, too, with no complaints, whining, or stalling… or at least, none related to how many bites he has to eat. He’s still a kid, after all, and I don’t expect him to fall upon kohlrabi with cries of rapture (I know I don’t!).

We aren’t being completely straight-laced about this, mind you. Sweet treats happen at other times and on other days — with grandparents, at a friend’s house, at church, whatever — but dinner has sure gotten a lot nicer. But we are trying to focus on healthier foods that provide real nutrients, so this fits with that goal synergistically (if that’s a word, and if it’s not, it SHOULD be).

So that’s that! For now, anyway, we’ve broken free from the tyranny of dessert. Hooray!

Labor Day, School, and So Much More

The New Car

Yesterday marked the one monthiversary of buying our Bolt.

New Bolt!

Since we bought it, we’ve figured out that:

  • My bike fits in the back, but only with the seats all the way down and the passenger seat squeezed all the way forward–leaving room for only the driver. Clearly before we replace the Prius, I need to get a hitch-mounted rack for the Bolt.
  • The car has at least 300 miles per charge. Ian drove it for two straight weeks, just about 300 miles, without a charge.
  • The radio turns on every time we turn the car on, and so far we haven’t found a way to turn it off.
  • It feels like riding a bike: You’re very aware of ups and downs, since you’re paying close attention to energy usage; and it has a hand brake paddle on the steering wheel that lets you slow down or even come to a full stop without ever touching the foot brake.

Ian and Benji use the car the lion’s share of the time, since during the week I exclusively travel by bus or bike. It’s the first time I’ve actually wanted to drive the car… but not into downtown Seattle. I can’t believe how many people are actually willing to sit through the misery we call a commute in their single-passenger vehicles.

It’s been quite the month.

Labor Day Weekend

Benji, Dad, and I had a very fun Labor Day weekend, hitting Alki Beach and Twin Falls on back-to-back days.

Twin Falls

Twin Falls 2017 - 1

Twin Falls 2017 2

Twin Falls 3 - Benji on a Rock

Twin Falls 4

Benji at Twin Falls 2017

Twin Falls - Snoqualmie River

Twin Falls - Snoqualmie River 2

Alki Beach

Alki Beach 1

Alki Beach 2017 - 2

Alki Beach Labor Day Weekend 2017

Alki Beach 2017 - 3

Alki Beach 2017 - Tidepools

School

Benji’s half-day kindergarten at ORCS started on September 11.
First Day of ORCS Kindergarten
I think it’s going well, although to be honest, I hear very little of how the day actually went. All I can really say is that Benji goes, and then I see him in the evening and he probably has a craft and is tired-hyper. But anything in between — going to school, having lunch, doing the afternoon with someone — I just trust is happening.

But overall, from the little snippets I do hear, Benji is liking half-day kindergarten. We’ve started keeping track of our reading hours, and so far it’s about an hour a day. He also said he likes having his best friend Will in class with him, and his two favorite parts of the school day are free choice and recess. Just about right. I tried to ask about academics, but aside from being really excited about doing colors this week, I haven’t heard much.

So far, Benji’s remained astonishingly healthy, but he’s been sniffling and sneezing lately, so I expect that’s about to change.

At Benji’s 5-year doctor visit we determined he’s totally normal in terms of physical growth and such. The doctor did refer us to Children’s for an assessment of large and fine motor skills as well as speech. That’s still pending.

Meanwhile, we’ve had two weeks of school and no pattern set yet. Next week will be another week with no pattern, but starting in October things will hopefully settle down.

Work

My work has gotten increasingly busy. I like it, and I haven’t dropped any balls yet, but I’m starting to get close to full capacity. I have a secondary project that I’m really excited about, but it’s taking a long time because release notes and release-related content updates always take top priority. This release cycle, which finishes on release night on October 19, has a number of big stories that require quite a bit of time to document.

I’ve been bringing my work laptop home on the weekends in the hopes of getting some work done, but somehow I hardly ever do. It’s work I love, but weekends are so full, especially with wanting to spend time with Benji and Ian since I don’t see them as much during the week; biking; and (importantly) catching up on sleep (hopefully).