“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 >>