First Day of School

Once again, the coronavirus pandemic hits home — literally. On Wednesday, Benji started second grade at his new school… from his little closet-office in his bedroom.

First Day of School 2020 - Ready to start 2nd grade
Ready to learn.
First Day of School 2020 - Remote learning
Second grade online.

One interesting thing about this is that I get to be a fly on the wall if I want. I can hear what the teacher tells the class during synchronous learning time, and then follow up with him during asynchronous learning time. Asynchronous is a heck of a word for second graders to absorb, but the kids will learn what it means through direct experience. Continue Reading >>

Camping at Ohanapecosh

I mentioned a bit ago that Dad and I were taking Benji backpacking. Long story short, it didn’t happen. The first week we planned to go, the forecast deteriorated rapidly and when the day came, it poured rain, with even more rain in the mountains where we’d planned to go. We postponed a week, to August 27 and 28. We obtained backpacks and got even more ready to go.

Then, several days before we were to leave, I started having the kind of gastrointestinal distress that you really don’t want to have on a hiking trip. Let’s just say I never wanted to venture far from a restroom, and I didn’t fancy using the bushes for that business. I hoped it would pass quickly (so to speak), but no such luck. Continue Reading >>

Preparing to Go Backpacking

My Dad and I are planning on taking Benji on his first-ever backpacking trip overnight Thursday to Friday. The plan is to go to a place called Heliotrope Ridge on Mt. Baker. We’ve been packing and preparing for a few days, gathering up all the backpacking gear and supplies we’ll need, and I keep oscillating between “wow, that’s a lot” and “we really don’t need that much.”

The big thing is backpacks. I’m the only one of us who owns a backpacking pack these days; Dad purged his long ago, figuring he’d never be backpacking again. REI no longer rents this type of gear, so that’s a challenge for Dad. And then there’s Benji: We definitely don’t have any kid-sized sleeping bags or backpacks. He won’t carry much, but he’ll have to carry at least his clothes, food, water, and sleeping bag… and probably at least one stuffed animal. I’m definitely not carrying stuffed animals for him! Fortunately, my parents have some neighbors who backpack with their kids, and they’ve very generously agreed to let Benji borrow a kid-sized pack and sleeping bag. Continue Reading >>

It’s Official: No In-Person School in the Fall

In a characteristically epic message, yesterday evening our school district’s Superintendent has confirmed what we all suspected: Schools will open in the fall with only online learning. Students will not attend in-person classes for the foreseeable future.

A couple weeks ago, Dad asked, “What would you change if you knew you’d have to keep doing this for another year?” I’ve pondered this question ever since, because it makes a good point: We all kind of stumbled into this routine. There was no plan. We can all tolerate a lot of mild inconvenience for a while, but when “a while” turns from six months to nine months to a year, those mild inconveniences may become serious irritants that we need to deal with before they get worse. Continue Reading >>

Coronavirus Conundrum

Angry coronavirus.

This is going to sound a little crazy, but up until now, the pandemic hasn’t forced many difficult decisions in our life. Yes, we’ve faced inconvenience — not seeing coworkers in person, having to figure out what to do with Benji while we try to work all day — but by and large we’ve not had to optimize between, for example, earning a paycheck and staying home. I continually remain thankful for the fact that we can “just” shift gears to follow the state and county health guidances without impossible choices. Continue Reading >>

Pandemic in Pictures: Painting the Closet/Office

I mentioned a few days ago that we moved a desk into the closet in Benji’s bedroom to give him a little office space of his own. After using it for a bit, we came up with the idea of allowing Benji to paint the space to personalize it a bit more.

Because of my wrist injury, I didn’t go for a big Saturday bike ride like usual. I seized this opportunity to execute the painting plan.

First, Benji and I went to the paint store to pick out his paint. We meticulously wore face masks and (mostly) stayed far from store employees. Benji homed in on the color he wanted almost immediately: Rumba Orange. I had already decided to let him pick any color he wanted, so even though it wasn’t what I would choose, we went with it. Continue Reading >>

Pre-Algebraic Thinking

During his shower yesterday evening, Benji was playing in the warm water (like you do) and when he came out, he said, “I invented a new fun number game! I can figure out what a number is from doing complicated steps.”

I wasn’t sure what this meant, but after some discussion, it turns out he’s basically engaging in some pre-algebra thinking. He has an unknown and knows what steps were done to find it, and thus can work backward to find the unknown number.

He tried to write down what he was talking about (left) and, after explaining it, I said, “Would you like me to show you how mathematicians write that?” Yes. So I did (right). Continue Reading >>