Trainbow

Benji & Trainbow
Benji arranged his many train engines in color order. We are really into rainbows and rainbow order right now.

Benji's Own Track
In related news, Benji built this entire track himself, except for the one segment that goes under the bridge. But all the rest was his, including all the problem-solving to get parts hook up right. He’s growing up, building his own complicated tracks all by himself!

Picture Diary: December 9-14

December 9

Snow Day!

We made a snow man in the back yard and I pulled Benji on a home-made cardboard sled for a little bit. I also went for 90 minutes of walks before the snow went away.

December 11

Sleeping in the  Nest

Only for nap time, and only on the rare occasions nap time actually involves napping, does Benji sleep in his “nest.” He has so many snuggles, plus a half-dozen blankets including one down comforter, that it’s probably similar to his mattress.

December 14

Benji Christmas Program 1

Benji Christmas Program 1

Our Redeemer Christian School’s Christmas program. Benji loved his angel halo, even though he didn’t sing for any of the songs. He’s the one in the turquoise shirt with stripy sleeves in the front row. It was exactly like you expect preschool singing to be: adorable for parents and fun for the kids. I would probably have appreciated it more if I hadn’t spent most of the time struggling not to cough up a lung.

Aaand this is where I confess that I actually wrote this post on the 16th and then back-dated it to fill in some gaps.

A Metaphor for Something

I saw this while dropping Benji off one day, and it made made me smile. Some kind of metaphor for how the Christmas season can feel, perhaps?

Odds and Ends

The temperatures have dipped the last few days, and Benji and I haven’t been able to ride our bike to school all week. If I was commuting alone, I’d probably give it a shot (except Tuesday, when there was definitely ice and black ice), but with Benji, trying to ride to school in 20-degree weather, it’s just too difficult to keep him warm. I know lots of hardy parents in Scandinavian countries and colder parts of our country take their kids out in the 20s, but… we’re Washingtonians. We trust that waiting a few days will bring us more temperate temperatures and comfier riding.

Meanwhile, Benji had another Special Day at school, and he got to bring home the (presumably extremely germy — excuse me while I go wash my hands for a moment) class stuffed animal, Mr. Moose. Benji taught him about Advent Calendars and “shared” some of his morning chocolate.

Benji and Mr Moose and Advent Calendar

Every morning when he wakes up — remember, this happens some time between 5:30 and 6:00 — Benji leaps out of bed and yells, “YUM!” and then, dashing downstairs, yells, “YUM, YUM, YUMMY YUM YUM!” Blessed quiet follows, then, as he concentrates on opening the little Advent Calendar door and extracting and unwrapping the chocolate.

I’ve certainly enjoyed pie for breakfast, and I’ll never say no to a good chocolate croissant; but eating straight chocolate first thing? Even my sweet tooth quails at the prospect. And nobody could ever accuse me of turning down chocolate.

I love desserts, and generally consume too much sugar, a weakness combated entirely by the fact that I ride my bike a fair bit. Although, as previously noted, not so much when it’s very cold out. I actually did ride my trainer yesterday, but it was a really halfhearted attempt, and my toes never warmed up even though I never left the garage.

I may have to switch to running (these workouts don’t sound too bad), or at least get my mind back back in the game for some trainer intervals. It’s a bummer time of year for cycling, even for someone as willing to ride in the rain as I can be. Call me crazy, but I’m not willing to ride in potentially icy or slushy conditions, nor am I willing to incur permanent nerve damage by riding in 36-degree rain for hours at a time.

In Unrelated News

I applied for a new job at a software company called Tamarac, located in downtown Seattle. I’ve worked closely with and really like one of the support people there, and she said she’ll put in a good word for me. I’ve got my fingers crossed — although if I did get an offer, that’d have its own challenges (namely: What the heck do we do with our child while I’m working?!). I’m going to just give it a shot and see what happens, and trust that God has a plan one way or another.

And, um, if you’re a stay-at-home mom who’d like to earn a few extra bucks by watching my darling son while I’m working… let me know. 🙂

From the Mouths of Preschoolers

This evening, Benji decorated my small bedside table clock with new orange ear plugs in an oddly creepy, pointy pattern. Then we had the following conversation:

Me: What’s with my clock?
Benji: It’s an alien mind control robot!
Me: *Speechless*
Ian: I didn’t know that!
Benji: Well, you learn something new every day.

And really, what could we say to that?

Sometimes having kids reminds me of having a recording device put around the house that records what I say, and then randomly spouts back phrases at quasi-random, almost-logical intervals. This can be alarming or hilarious, depending.

Benji did chastise me the other day when, in a moment of frustration, I said something like “this stupid thing won’t do what I want.” He immediately replied, “Don’t say ‘stupid!’ You say ‘stupid’ a lot.” Guilty, guilty, guilty. I guess at least I didn’t say “This stupid f*ing piece of sh*t won’t do what I want!” –which, let’s be honest, is what may be going through my mind at that moment. The filter isn’t perfect but at least it’s somewhat there. Gives me something to keep working on.

Also, on another sillier note, earlier today, Benji was pretending to be a koala while playing with Ian. Benji announced, “I’m crawling around. No, I’m KOALA-ing around!” Commence the punning.

I think I need to write more of these down. Our best days are chock-a-block with these kinds of conversations. My favorite ones involve him explaining a concept to me, like this:

Me: Why is Venus so yellowy?
Benji: Because Venus has all these clouds around it so it’s really super hot. The hot is yellow. Like the sun is really hot, and it’s yellow.

Maybe I could farm him out to a fake news site. Those usually start with some grain of truth and then go somewhere crazy, right? Sounds like the perfect job for a bunch of preschoolers.

Art Milestone

Why am I posting a picture of what you know most be one of zillions of Benji’s art projects? Well, first, you’d be right if you guessed that we get rather snowed under with art. However, this one stands out for a few reasons:

  1. Benji instigated it entirely himself. Normally, I have to set aside time and cajole him into scribbling randomly for like 5 minutes, after which he wants to go back to playing trains. This time, he pulled out most of the supplies himself and started on his own, only bringing me in when adult help was required.
  2. The ideas were almost entirely his own. The design is entirely his-a solar system, not surprisingly-and I merely made suggestions for what materials to use (I supplied all the different tapes and the glitter glue). Previously, I’ve always told him what our project will be. This time the creativity came from himself.
  3. He wanted to use art to represent something, and figured out a way to do it using the materials at hand. And stuck with it with good focus the entire time, no getting distracted.

I’m not sure if this is because of his new preschool, which has an art center area that’s kind of a new concept to him; or if playing with Legos has anything to do with the increasing creativity; or if watching big-boy Colin build Legos creatively (and Benji’s preschool peers, for that matter, but he really admires and respects Colin); or if we’re just passing some kind of milestone. But whatever the case, this art project represents a moment I want to remember.

Silly Cat Riddle Song, and Other Stuff

Listening to our Pandora station for kids, we heard this song:

Thank you, Pandora, for possibly the silliest song we’ve heard in a long time. Love it!

Benji got his first cold, right on time, three days after his first full day of school; it was massively rainy so I converted my big, outside ride into a short trainer ride; and clearly we were meant to spend all of yesterday playing Legos, building Legos, and sorting Legos. Benji is getting pretty good at building with the small-size Legos.

And then I spent about four hours (!!) in the evening making two apple pies for church. I hope they taste OK.
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The End of a Marathon Summer

We started summer in the middle of May. This week, five months later, we finished it. It truly has been a marathon summer, and we’ve had so much fun and Benji grew up in so many ways — but it also validated my firm belief that I will never, ever home school my child. We would drive each other nuts in the first year (or less). So, we started at ORCS this year, and will probably go there for a couple years.

In any case, I’m also happy for Benji to start school because he needs that time with other kids. He can read surprisingly well and can count past 100, but although he likes playing with people and is friendly, he doesn’t know what to do with other kids as much. Also, I like that his large- and small-motor skills get stretched at school, as he tries to copy what his peers do.

And I get some time off during the day. Not as much time as I might like; his school this year is only 9:00 to 11:30, whereas last year it went until 12:45. It does feel a bit like I drop him off and then immediately turn around to pick him up. Thank goodness we picked a school only 8 minutes away by bicycle!

Oh, and it’s about 1/4 mile from the new house Benji’s extra-special friend Will just moved into! I’m hoping we can parlay this into lots of after-school lunches with our friends this year.

So, here Benji is giving me a “smile” on his first day.
Benji's First Day at ORCS

That very first day, they only did class for an hour, and parents stayed in the classroom with the kids. Benji and I both liked this; it let him explore the room and familiarize himself with it and the teachers, but with the safety of a parent around. I liked getting to see the room and the kinds of things he might do there.

Circle Time on Parent Day

Circle Time on Parent Day 2

Circle Time on Parent Day 3

Benji’s class this year has only 13 kids, compared to something like 27 kids at Bucky Beaver last year. I think this will be nicer, letting Benji do the coveted activities like weather and calendar more than a couple times a year.

Benji Cooking a Recipe

Benji and Mrs. M play letters

On Wednesday and Thursday, the first couple days on his own, Benji seemed really anxious about going. He expressed great concern in wanting to know where I was in the house all the time, and tended to react with tears and whining to everything. He tossed his yogurt on the carpet on Wednesday because the yogurt was “too wet.” I attribute it to the transition; adapting to change hits hard sometimes.

Even so, he got substantial time in the Cry Zone while I cleaned up the yogurt. GRR. Now I’m thinking I foresee cleaning in our near future.

ANYWAY, I, meanwhile, had a perfectly easy transition! Except that I have to adjust to bike commuting with him Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; but this was a perfectly gorgeous week, weather-wise, and made it easy for me to want to go out again (even with tired legs). I got a good bit of work done while Benji was at school, and then when I picked him up, he super enthusiastically described what they’d gotten to do in class.

Compared to the extremely structured Bucky Beaver, I think this Pre-K program is a lot more laid-back and Montessori-style, with centers for the kids to explore different things. I like this idea in theory, but I hope the teachers encourage him to not just play trains for the entire 2.5 hours.

OK, that’s probably enough on school. I’m just kind of meandering, anyway. But here’s to a great school year with lots of learning, fun, and growth!