Birthday Love

Yesterday I got a year older.

Actually, Benji asked me a real poser about that: “How do you get older?” I said, “One day at a time.” While I thought that was a pretty good answer, Benji didn’t really buy it. After that I ran out of answers, since “It just happens over time” also didn’t satisfy.

I had a nice birthday. Benji had the idea of making vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and strawberries on top for me; he also wanted to go to the toy store and help Ian pick out a present for me. They did both those things, which was very sweet. The present was, perhaps not surprisingly, a 3-in-1 Lego vehicle set — the exact thing Benji would want! But in fact it does give me a wonderful present: peace and quiet while Benji “helps” build the set.

One of my coworkers made sweet biscuits and brought them in with strawberries and whipped cream to make strawberry shortcake for my birthday, which was also very kind and thoughtful. In the afternoon, I got to ride home with a biking buddy who works in Fremont, which was especially nice because we had a vigorous headwind.

And I got to have a nice hour-long chat with Colleen, who also sent me an adorable picture of Lumpy the Dragon for my birthday:

All in all, a nice quiet birthday. We’ll get together with my parents over the weekend and use the excuse of my recent birthday to eat tasty treats. I’m also using the excuse of my birthday to take Friday off and have a 4-day weekend. The weather has (mostly) turned nice, and things are looking summery, which bodes well for the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride we plan to do on Memorial Day.

Looking Summery

We made a water slide in our back yard over the weekend.

Summer Fun 1

Summer Fun 2

Summer Fun 3

Summer Fun 4

Summer Fun 5

It’s been about 9 or 10 months since we were able to play in water without getting hypothermia.

And, our lupines are doing fabulously — including a couple of genetic oddities.

It feels so bizarre to have bare legs and arms out in the outside (or at all, for that matter) — and, naturally, I got my first sunburn on Saturday because I forgot about the existence of sunscreen. I remember now.

Random Thoughts

Since my last update, I’ve mostly spent the time feeling really lousy. Benji, Mom, and Ian all got a nasty cold that consisted mainly of a really sore throat, bad headache, aching neck, and general exhaustion.  

I thought I’d dodged that bullet, but evidently not; my bullet was just delayed for a while. It was nasty enough I even took one day off work. The really under the weather feeling took a solid seven days to go away, and only yesterday did I start feeling a little perky again. Unfortunately, I’m not better: the coughing remains, and kept me awake most of last night. Which is a real bummer.

 Fortunately, I still have an Albuterol inhaler my doctor prescribed when I had pneumonia, and she confirmed I should use that when the coughing gets bad. I was concerned it would keep me awake last night, so I didn’t try it for a long time, until I realized I would be awake anyway from coughing. So I tried it and finally got to sleep. Next time I won’t wait!

That illness kind of dominated our weekend, so we didn’t get much done and Ian didn’t get any time to chill. Now I’m on the mend, hopefully both of those will change.

Speaking of on the mend, the weather seems to finally be realizing it’s spring. We had a lovely day over 70° yesterday, our first in more than eight months. The tops of my knees actually saw some sun, which was shocking for all I’m involved!

Alas, that was likely a fluke, and we’re back to rain again this afternoon. After 45″ of rain since October, I wish we could send our water somewhere else where they need it. My rain/commuter bike has gotten lots of miles this year, and I’m hoping when I finally switch to the fast bike, I’ll actually be fast thanks to all that resistance training.

There’s lots of other stuff going on, but it will have to wait for another bus ride!

Big Boy Behavior

This morning, Benji just dressed himself while I was brushing my teeth.

It was sure a growing-up moment. I told him he needed to put clothes on before we watched our 30 minutes of videos; he disappeared, and a few minutes later came back completely changed into perfectly appropriate school clothes. Some things may be on backwards, but overall, a job well done.

The other day, we were at mom and dad’s house, and Benji was playing with dirt and water and some trucks. On the way home, Benji told me that the trucks were making cement for Moss Town. In Moss Town, people build their houses on cement (I didn’t tell him we do that too), and he told me all about how they needed special cement, how he was making the cement, and what Moss Town people would do with it. He quite matter-of-fact and he had clearly developed a full imaginary story in his head that I only heard part of.

In general, it’s getting to be more fun and more challenging in proportion as Benji gets older.

At school, Benji doesn’t want to sit in circle time and he doesn’t want to participate in the dance/movement time. We’ve been pondering how to get him to at least behave at circle time–sitting still when you don’t want to I’d an important life skill!–and we’re going to try a behavior chart with rewards for times he succeeds at sitting still the whole time. 

When the teacher told me Benji was disturbing other kids be being too wiggly and bonking into his classmates, I felt like a total Mommy fail. I know Benji can sit still, even when he doesn’t want to; reading him stories, I’ll tell him to keep his bottom on the chair and he can stay for an entire (short) chapter. But at school he chooses not to. 

I think it’s a matter of properly motivating him. He doesn’t see any reason to sit still, so he doesn’t try. I’m hoping that fun prizes will prove incentive enough.

Thinking about it, I realize that is probably true for everyone. I just have different motivations. I don’t want to be embarrassed or bother other people, whereas? Benji doesn’t care about that. I wonder how much of our “good” adult behavior is really just enlightened self-interest like that. Huh.

Easter Weekend

Saturday morning I did a bike ride with Dad. The weather held fair, so we rode fast bikes, and fortunately the group was pretty mellow. Even so, we only did 65 miles of the stated 82-mile route, and that was good for me, too, because I got a cold from Benji and was definitely not feeling frisky.

But with riding to and from the ride, I ended up getting in about 82 miles anyway, still my longest day of the year so far. But May is coming, and that means we start riding centuries. I’d better avoid any other cold viruses!

Hat Weather
Saturday I got to break out my hat for the first time this year. I wore it to weed the front yard, also for the first time this year. That really needed to happen sooner, but hey… the weeds are happy to wait for me to get to them.

Sunday was Easter! Christ is risen — He is risen indeed!

We’ve been talking about Easter a lot, reading the Easter story with Benji. He’s acted it out with props at Mom’s house many times. I think he gets it. On Easter morning, I drew on the daily board a picture of a sunrise with “Happy Easter!” written on it.

Benji came and modified it to this:
Easter Chalkboard
On the left-hand side, Benji drew Good Friday, when Jesus died. He drew dark skies and a tomb with a rock still in front. Then, on the right-hand side, he drew a tomb with the rock rolled away. (You do have to use your imagination, as with all art at this age.)

We had an okay Easter church service, but unfortunately, due to a pervasive viral infection shared by four of our family, we had to cancel our planned family dinner. Instead, we took a long nap at home (two of us, anyway), and then Benji and I went back to my parents’ house for the afternoon. We walked to a nearby elementary school and played on the playground for a while. We even had a fun walk home.

Easter Dash with Papa

Easter Walk with Nana

After dinner, Benji drew some planets. Because what else would you draw, I guess.
Easter Planets

It wasn’t the Easter we planned, but it was probably the Easter we needed. Everyone is feeling a little healthier this week, I think.

That’s good, because on Thursday I have my first publish to production at work, which means staying late at work.

Strange Freedom

This week is spring break at our preschool. Normally this would mean extra scheduling at daycare and shuffling of other childcare planning, and my trying to minimize time at work so I can get home to relieve Ian.

This week, however, we do something totally different. Mom took Benji to California for two nights to visit our family there, while Ian and I find ourselves footloose and fancy-free for two evenings.

Last night, on evening one, we splurged on time and watched an entire 90-minute Classic MST3K. We enjoyed salmon for dinner without any whining, and that’s it. Pretty exciting.

This morning I had thought of sleeping in – I normally get up an hour early so I can get all my stuff done and still have time with Benji in the morning – but instead I just left for work an hour early. This may not seem luxurious, but having the freedom to choose – that is luxury.

Tonight we plan to go out to dinner and maybe play some board games, our idea of a date night. I’m looking forward to it.

I had forgotten how easy everything is when I only have to take care of myself. But at the same time, things are so quiet and so flat, completely without the surrealistic absurdity so effectively (albeit unintentionally) propagated by our little person. I’m not yet tired of the ease and convenience, but it wouldn’t take long for me to start missing the kid in our life.

The Wisdom of Silence

I was just reading Proverbs 10 this morning. I think it’s a good idea to read Proverbs periodically; as I mature and go through different experiences, the same words say different things to me. This time, as I read Proverbs 10, I got a very clear message: 

Talk less. Listen more.

I’m terrible at listening. I interrupt constantly, I don’t wait to hear what other people have to say, and I tend to think my ideas have the most merit. 

This isn’t the way to wisdom.

In Proverbs, Wisdom is depicted as a woman standing on the street, calling for us to pay attention. I can imagine us in our cars speeding by, intent on our own lives and thoughts, uninterested in this external voice – especially since this voice tells us to seek moderation, patience, selflessness, discipline, and service. She calls us to seek and fight for the objective truth; to run from self-indulgence; and to listen to the wisdom of history.

Not exactly popular sentiments these days.

Also not something I’m likely to come to on my own, while listening to my own voice. That’s what stood out to me, this time around: I, as much as any prevaricating president, prefer my own reality to God’s. The path of Wisdom turns from such murky ways and instead follows the clear way of God’s Word. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light,” and I do believe Proverbs points us in that direction.

Anyway, philosophy aside, I felt convicted to talk less and listen more. You can hold me to it.