Chalk-Colored Fence

I admit, chalk-colored fence doesn’t have quite the same ring as stained-glass window; and it doesn’t have the gravity and weight of a real stained-glass window…

2010-12-26 France Vacation 18

…but masking tape, chalk, and an open section of fence can combine into a pretty fun and, in places, attractive work of art.

First I masking-taped the fence. It took a long time. If I were to do it again, I’d probably try to make a picture of something, rather than just random shapes.

Then Benji and I started coloring it in. Continue Reading >>

Science Fair in Pictures: First Grade Edition

It all started when Benji said he wanted to collect elements. Into my mind flashed a vision of a pile of random junk all jumbled together, at best contained in some large and battered cardboard box, that Benji refused to throw away. Benji would clutch every precious item to his chest and refuse to relinquish it because it contained, for example, phosphorus or selenium.

This unappealing vision nearly caused me to reflexively toss out a firm “no.” But I gave it a little more thought and came up with, if I may say, a moderately brilliant idea: Collect tiny samples and tape them to the old kindergarten science fair poster board. This, combined with Benji’s willingness to collect samples that contain an element, rather than pure samples, made the project possible. Continue Reading >>

“When I have a bad day, I can do science.”

Thus quoth Benji, who has never tried to titrate by hand.

However, it was really true that despite his having a cold, we went and did science and he seemed happier than most of the previous 48 hours.

Our adventure started in Teresa’s lab, where she used her access to strong acids, hit plates, a fume hood, and a centrifuge to good effect.

Dissolving a copper penny in acid.
6 M acid is too slow, let’s use undiluted acid.
Add a base and get a pretty blue precipitate.
Heat it up to obtain a lovely brown sludge.
Add…I think it was one more acid, but I’m not sure, and you get transparent blue liquid again! Chemistry is magic!
What the heck, let’s centrifuge some of the leftover precipitate.
Don’t break this.
Spinning at 4000 gravities.

As an added bonus, we made rocket fuel using melted potassium perchlorate and a Skittle.

Dang, those Skittles really burn!

After we finished having all that fun, we went and Benji was a test subject at the iLab doing some brain science. Continue Reading >>

Evans Creek Preserve Comes Through Again

The tiny Evans Creek Preserve is coming to be one of Benji’s and my favorite places to go for a walk. Cuddled up against the Sammamish Plateau, it features meadow, woodland, and hillside trails all documented with a phenomenal map system.

It doesn’t present much of a hiking challenge, but does present a perfect compromise for Benji’s love of maps and numbers and my desire for us to get outside. We simply hike from one numbered intersection to the next, and we’re both happy. Continue Reading >>

Mother’s Day Gift

For Mother’s Day, my mom has been helping Benji to learn how to ride a bike. It’s proven much more challenging than anyone would have guessed, but they have stuck with it and made good progress.

That’s a lovely surprise for them to work on, but yesterday Benji spontaneously gave me a gift he didn’t even know was a gift.

At church we were standing and singing some songs at the beginning of the service, and Benji leaned against me. I asked if he wanted me to pick him up, and he said yes.

If you’re thinking, “Isn’t he a little big for that?” the answer is “Definitely.” He’s close to 60 lbs and his head comes within a few inches of my shoulder. But occasionally I still carry him upstairs at bedtime or when we’re dancing and being silly. These occasions are getting rarer as he matures physically and mentally, as it should be.

Yesterday I picked him up, and he leaned into me, occasionally draping his arms around me. He gave me a kiss on my cheek and put his head on my shoulder and I just held him while the song went on. He started that way for quite a long time. After a while my forearms started burning, but I kept holding him until he asked to get down again.

He almost never wants to snuggle like that — even “snuggling” usually entails more wrestling or getting kicked in the face. So a few moments of quiet, gentle affection from him meant more to me than any macaroni noodle necklace or adorably misspelled card.

It really was a mother’s day gift I treasured.

… Which I tried hard to remember eight hours later when he was spitting on the floor, slamming doors, and running outside stark naked yelling and crying because he didn’t get his way. Back to normal!