“This Will Blow Your Mind Off”

Thus quoth Benji as he explained the theory of why astronomers think there’s another planet out way past Pluto. Here’s what transpired.

I sat down to write a new daily board, which says the date and Benji’s agenda for the day. Before I started, Benji said, “Wait! I want to sure you something.”

A little background. Benji really wants to be an astronomer when he grows up, and whether he does or not, it’s a fun hobby for a kid with lots of interesting exercises and experiments. There are also tons of videos on space stuff, naturally. Benji’s especially interested in the hypothetical Planet 9, which is somewhere way out in the Kuiper Belt, or maybe father. Who knows.

A few days ago, Ian and Benji watched some videos explaining some concepts about Planet 9, why astronomers think it’s out there, what they hypothesize about its physical properties, etc. I got a little summary of the videos then, and figured that was the end of it.

I was so wrong.

This morning, Professor Benji took up the chalk to draw a diagram that explains why the orbits of trans-Neptunian objects like Pluto, Eris, Makemake, and Haumea strongly suggest the presence of another, more massive object that we haven’t yet found.


He then went on to speculate about the material composition of the planet;

Elucidate on its mass relative to other Solar System objects (Earth and Neptune);

And theorize about the existence of many other such objects yet to be discovered. 


Granted, much of this latter material contained elements of speculation, but it was speculation informed by 2.5 years of education about planets and their properties.

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.

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.

MOHAI

Today instead of riding our bikes through the veritable monsoon conditions, Dad and I took Benji to MOHAI. I had fun memories of visiting there as a kid, and recalled that they had fun, more hands-on exhibits than most museums.

MOHAI has moved since I visited (it has to have been 20 years since I went, if not more), to a really cool art deco-style building in South Lake Union. Normally I assiduously avoid South Lake Union, which during the week turns into an insane snarl of gridlocked vehicles full of grouchy drivers. But on Saturday at 10:00 am, it wasn’t bad at all. We even easily found parking in the microscopic parking lot, which was completely full and had cars waiting for a spot when we came out a couple hours later.

MOHAI

I was delighted that they had the Lincoln Tow Truck, which we saw parked for many years and were sorry to notice vanish some years ago.

They had a kid “construction” area, which we did spend some time enjoying. We tried out all the different stuff, but Benji isn’t much into dressing up or acting stuff out. We did build with some interesting connector type toys, both in that kid area and in the “Idea Lab,” which basically had bins of K’nex-type toys.
MOHAI - Kid-Struction Zone Library

The majority of our time went to ricocheting around different exhibits way to fast to take anything in. After bouncing through several exhibits, Dad and I insisted on walking slowly through one whole exhibit of Benji’s choice (Edible City). They did have a number of interactive aspects, which we took advantage of.
MOHAI - Food Container Ship

MOHAI - Light-Up Food Wall

I liked the periscope up in the maritime room on the 4th floor; Benji and Dad looked at the ship’s wheel.
MOHAI - Maritime Room

I think Benji’s favorite, and one that we all found quite compelling, was the interactive wall exhibit. You turn the wheel and one of the wall boxes lights up and something moves inside. They had a number of those spin-the-wheel-type interactive displays, which we all liked.
MOHAI - Interactive Wall

MOHAI - Work Together

If I was kid-free, I’d love to go back there with my nice SLR and use my photography-eyes. It was a really interesting area, with the Center for Wooden Boats and various exhibition boats, the cool architecture of the museum outside plus the interesting lights and objects inside. Some day.

Edit to add: Here are some pictures Dad surreptitiously took with his nice camera.
Idea Lab

Choose Your Meal

Fun times at MOHAI

Thinking at MOHAI

Kid-Struction Library at MOHAI

Snow Fun

It was snowing this morning when I left to catch an early bus at 6:29. The roads were clear but the heavy flurries of flakes made it difficult to see. The bus drove through a mess of snow on the freeway, followed by some very cold rain when we got downtown. (Similar, if sightly warmer, weather is forecasted for the foreseeable future. Not a great sign for happy commuting.)

When I got my bike off the bus, the side facing out was caked with slush. This is what it looked like after I rode it down to the parking garage and a bunch of slush fell off.

On top of this, I am spending the whole day today and tomorrow in training, which means arriving at 7:30 am, and then I need to stay late to actually get some work done afterwards.

For some added fun, Benji has also come down with a nasty cold. He coughed so much he vomited yesterday afternoon, but slept OK overnight with massive help from the humidifier. Naturally, this happens right when I’m gone extra-long days.

I’ll be honest: I wish this week was done.

Evening update: I rode my bike home. The first couple miles, I rode through an inch of melty slush that fell right before I left. The traffic through downtown was literally stopped pretty much everywhere, and I saw many forlorn people waiting for buses that were probably laughably far off their schedules. As I left the parking garage, I heard the cop whose job it is to help cars turn out into traffic ask the driver next to me, “Where you going?” [inaudible response – maybe Bellevue?] “Well, good luck!” –I later learned that freeways were intermittently shut down much of the day.

I had a very slow commute, despite trying to maintain a decent pace, and I’m not sure why. It wasn’t the road conditions — after I crossed Mercer St. on Dexter, the slush miraculously vanished, leaving wet roads and increasingly chilly temperatures. But by some miracle I didn’t even get precipitated on at all — no wintry mix, no mixed rain/sleet, no freezing rain, not even any regular old rain. It all paused for a couple hours while I rode home.

I know I should be grateful (on many levels! By catching an hour earlier bus, I missed the bad morning traffic; by riding home, I missed the evening commute snarl), but I finished just feeling depressed that it was my slowest commute in several weeks. My LEGS felt like I was going 20 mph but somehow my speedometer kept saying closer to 15 mph. Sigh.

Also, Benji spiked a fever during the day, which means he has to miss school tomorrow, and tomorrow is the day his class is going to visit the vet clinic. Darn it! I am grateful, however, that my mom is able to take Benji for a second day in a row and for a third day this week. Benji’s doctor approved a small dose of cold medicine to help with the coughing, which has gotten really bad and is keeping him from sleeping.

WHY, universe, WHY??????