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 >>

Surfing the Web at Seven

Benji spends substantial amounts of time on the computer by himself these days. We don’t spend every minute monitoring him doing his school activities, and he likes to use One Note for playing little drawing games he narrates to himself. He could do those by hand, but One Note saves on paper and markers.

Being a fairly bright kid, he’s figured out pretty quickly that a person can search the internet to find sites of interest. Right now he searches for things like “Map of the world 1914” and similar geography-related topics. Continue Reading >>

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
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dharma_for_one/5458742148

…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 >>