“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.
Separated!

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!

A Very Kindergarten Week

It started with Benji laughing hysterically. He wanted to tell me a story about something that had happened at school, but it cracked him up so much he could hardly get the words out.

Finally, he managed to calm down enough to gasp out the facts: When they got their turn with a school iPad, he and a friend took a picture (or pictures?) of Benji’s bottom with the camera app. I laughed, too — and then suddenly a sobering thought struck me.

“You had your pants on, right?”

“Yeah, like this –” …and he proceeds to drop his drawers and give me a full moon. Continue Reading >>

Why We Keep Teeth

Benji has lost four teeth so far, the front two in the top and bottom. Before he lost his first tooth, which came out at the end of June last year, we prepped him with the hard reality that there is no Tooth Fairy. We are the Tooth Fairy, I told him. This didn’t faze him, as long as a prize appears overnight in place of his tooth.

We also skipped the tooth-under-the-pillow shenanigans, and instead have a special jar to contain the tooth. The jar sits outside Benji’s bedroom door, making it nice and easy for the “Tooth Fairy” (he still wants to pretend, even though he knows it’s us) to make the swap. Continue Reading >>

Oh, That’s Saturday

Thanks to Ian, I get to spend most of every Saturday biking. It’s the part of the week I finally don’t worry about anything harder than not getting dropped. It helps keep me sane. I ride on Saturdays rain or shine, heat or cold; the only exception is extreme wind or ice.

The other exception is when I’m sick. This week wasn’t my best for health: On Tuesday I got a cold from Benji. But I spent all of Wednesday, the Fourth, lounging in bed watching Netflix (thanks, Ian!), and by Thursday I felt much better. Friday I planned to do the usual Saturday ride, maybe albeit a little slower than usual.

Then, on Friday night, I got some kind of what I suspect to be food poisoning. It wasn’t pretty for about four hours there, is all I’m going to say about that. After which I went to sleep (it was the middle of the night, naturally) and woke up feeling normal. Definitely some kind of food poisoning, but to be on the cautious side, I decided to move my ride from Saturday to Sunday.

It was then decided (to use passive voice for its intended purpose, which is obscuring how/and who) that Ian would get a little mini-vacation day, while I took Benji. Thus it was that I got to see what normal people might do with a Saturday, given the whole day in which to achieve…uh…achievements.

Okay, let’s not get hung up on the use of “normal”; moving along, let’s instead get to the point of the post, which is this list of things I got done on Saturday:

  • Sort through a bunch of old clothes and bag a bunch up for Goodwill.
  • Wash a ton of dishes left from Friday night. It was a lot.
  • Drop Ian off at the place where he was going to hang out and do some stuff by himself.
  • Take Benji to Hillcrest Bakery for a little treat (where he ate the entirety of an enormous chocolate croissant, but only after agonizing between that and an apple fritter the size of his head).
  • Go grocery shopping with Benji. He stuck with me most of the time, but we went by the kids’ room where there’s a super nice attendant who will watch your kids while you shop, and he wanted to go in to play. So I finished up without him. When I came back to pick him up, he said, “Oh no, it’s time to go already?!” Then he started negotiating about when he’d get to come back.
  • Pick up CSA veggies and do the CSA kids’ garden. Benji also found a rainbow array of glass chips in the parking lot of the CSA parking lot, which is graveled with a ton of glass chips. I don’t know where they get them, but they aren’t sharp anymore. He did that, and then he picked some carrots and beets and a zucchini in the kids’ garden. Learning moments: Those squash plants are prickly! Also, to pull veggies, you need to grip at the base of the stem, near the dirt, rather than at the top of the leaves.
  • Put away all the food and wash a bunch of the veggies (although I did save the lettuce for Ian).
  • While also getting Benji some lunch, make two loaves of zucchini bread to use up the zucchini ASAP. To use up everything we got, I put in twice the amount of shredded zucchini, and the recipe turned out just fine–if anything, moister and more tasty than usual.
  • Make teriyaki sauce for the first time (easy) and start marinating some meat for today’s dinner. Hope that turns out okay!
  • During quiet time, wash dishes from the zucchini bread and eat lunch.
  • Mow front yard… it’s really mow the weeds, as the grass has stopped growing for the summer. We don’t water and I always look forward to the grass dying so we don’t have to mow any more. I’m sure our neighbors love this strategy.
  • Start weeding front yard. It may be dry, but that doesn’t stop the weeds from growing… and boy howdy, do they grow. There’s still a lot to do. While I was finishing that up, Ian got home from his adventures.
  • Take Benji to Bridle Trails for a 3-mile, zucchini bread-powered hike with Grammy and Papa Gary. As a bonus, we found ripe salmonberries, huckleberries, and some tiny native blackberries. Yummy!
  • Get leftovers together for dinner, probably the easiest part of the day. After that, Ian took Benji for a bubble bath and bedtime, and I collapsed on the couch for a couple episodes of Queer Eye (more on that another time).
  • Continue Reading >>