A Couple Random Pictures

Day’s Verse:
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!

Ecclesiastes 9:8-9ish

Birthday Sunset
The sunset on May 23, with only a little digital enhancement. Some compensation, I suppose, for creeping another year closer to the big 3-0. That, and Ian’s

The Top of Cougar Mountain
This is the view from the very tip top of Cougar Mountain, in an as-yet-undeveloped future neighborhood. Pretty spectacular: Even with my lousy camera phone, when you zoom the picture to 100% you can make out (from left to right) the Puget Sound on the far left, Seattle (through trees), Lake Washington, Bellevue, Lake Sammamish, Factoria/Issaquah, and (through more trees, just barely) the Cascade Mountains on the far right. On a clear day, with a good camera, this view would really knock your socks off. The caveat is that it’s at the top of a 1500′ climb, with numerous 15% to 17% pitches and even more 10% to 12% pitches. It’s not trivial to get there by bike, let me tell you, but well worth it when you get to the top.

A baby update:
This week has been a bit rough with Benji; we’ve had no grandparental help, which is rougher on me than on him. He’s working hard on getting his tummy off the ground to crawl for real, but he’s also become a master of the Army crawl and can scoot around alarmingly rapidly when he wants to. One of his top teeth has just started poking through, too, and the other’s nearly there, although we’ve thought that for a couple weeks now, so who knows. But based on the continuous fussing, refusal to nap, and copious drool volumes, I’m guessing it’ll be soon. Can’t be soon enough, if you ask me, although I know that’s only four teeth out of 20. Gah. When those two come in, we’re still only 20% of the way there. But on the bright side, he sits really well unassisted when motivated (spinning the globe is a particular favorite right now, as is reading peek-a-boo books) and spends a lot of time screeching loudly in happy excitement.

At Benji’s 9 month doctor visit, the doctor told us he didn’t need to eat overnight for nutrition; he gets plenty of calories between solids and formula during the day. Right now Benji goes down about 6:00 pm and wakes up between 6:00 and 7:00 am, with one wake-up for food in the night — the exact time varies, but usually between 1:00 and 3:00 am. He sucks four to six ounces of formula down in 10 minutes and usually goes straight back to sleep. Ian and I aren’t sure if we want to change this status quo yet; I’m mostly leaving it to Ian, who does the night feeding (I always still wake up for it, so it’s still disruptive, but at least I don’t have to get out of bed). I’m kind of hoping that Benji will wean himself from that final feeding, but if he doesn’t do it soon, I suppose we’ll have to step in.

Overall, Benji has gotten increasingly challenging as he’s grown older, but commensurately delightful. He babbles, he laughs, he noms on food, he blows raspberries, he crawls and investigates things… In short (I know, too late!) he’s slowly turning into a little person, and that’s truly amazing to watch and participate in.

Just for Fun

A while ago the Boa-Dragon (which Rachel and I found at a garage sale for $0.50) got urped up on. It happens. So I washed it, and since this was during the hot and sunny weeks we had a bit a go, I hung it on the line to dry with everything else.
Boa-Dragon Drying
Not your usual sight for laundry hanging out to dry, huh?

Here are a few pictures I took of Benji while Ian read him a story a couple weeks ago.
Reading With Daddy is Fun

"I LOVE Reading!"

Nom Nom Truck

I'm Just Cute
His mad scientist hair is starting to lay flat. I’ve known this would happen some day, but it makes me kind of sad that the crazy hair phase is ending. Yesterday after Benji’s bath, his hair actually stayed down flat, and even after sleeping on it, it’s just fluffy, not standing up straight like it has before. Aaahhh, our baby is growing up so fast…!

Speaking of which, he’s army-crawling astonishingly efficiently these days. I foresee baby-proofing in our immediate future, since outlets and cables seem to exert a disturbingly strong allure to crawling baby. As does anything hard he could bonk his head on, of course.

In short, watching Benji slowly (rapidly) turn from a slug into a little person is really an astonishing and delightful experience. I’m really enjoying nine months.

From Ian: Open Letter to Benji

This blade forged in peace
Never taste of blood
Or drawn in anger,
Or the quiver of fear as the enemy rushes,
Instead to remind, of those blades that have,
so this one might not.

My son,
A great man has passed away. But while he is no longer with us, he will not be forgotten. You share his name, so it is fitting that you have been chosen to bear his sword. You never had the opportunity to know him as I have, so let me tell you about Ben Morrell.

Ben and I became friends when I was ten years old. I can’t recall those early days other than that it seemed effortless. Ryan Palmer was friends with Ben. I was friends with Ryan. It must therefore follow that Ben and I would become friends. We shared a passion for all things computer-related, a love of science fiction/fantasy novels, and an appreciation for absurd humor.

Ben had a profound influence on my life. He introduced me to many of the things I’ve enjoyed over the years including, but not limited to: Whiteheart, Phil Keaggy, PDQ Bach, Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, BBSes, email, MMORPGs, the desire to own swords, how to cook steak, blogging, Android phones, cute yet very angry bunnies, and terrible puns. He was also one of a handful of people who inspired me to start acting, which eventually led to improv.

Ben was a very thoughtful person. Looking back I can see in him a wisdom that many junior high and high school students lack. Though college separated us by three thousand miles, through his blog he imparted his insight into matters both trivial and deep, especially in the last few years as he wrestled with heavy spiritual issues and the truth of his own mortality.

But he wasn’t afraid to indulge in a little silliness now and then. I remember taking a trip with Ben down to Seaside, Oregon when we hit a bad patch of congestion. While slowly inching forward on I-5, Ben rolled down the car windows, turned up his stereo, and inserted Disc 1 of the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. As the overture poured out of the car speakers, I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of two teenaged boys blasting Andrew Lloyd Webber on the interstate. Another time, on a summer mission trip to Wyoming, Ben wanted to see the sunrise, so four of us got up at five AM and climbed up a small hill near where we were staying. In the pre-dawn cold, Ben suggested we do the hokey pokey to stay warm. We did.

He did have a devious side, though. Ben could be cunning when it suited him. He spent years trying to surreptitiously set up a mutual friend with dates. And once he used false promises of an alliance to manipulate me into attacking Dan McCurley in Warcraft 2, while simultaneously convincing Dan of the same. Needless to say, Ben wiped the floor with the pitiful remnants of our armies.

I most admired Ben for his sense of vision. Whatever he did — getting friends together to make movies, brainstorming video game ideas, or creating solid IT infrastructures — Ben was realistic in his expectations but never afraid to dream big. More than once his passion and ability to look past the obstacles and focus on the potential inspired me to move beyond the mundane rut I had allowed myself to settle in.

Six years ago Ben was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of cancer. During those years he displayed a courage and steadfast faith that I could only envy. He endured the agony of cancer treatments not because he was afraid of dying, though he no doubt experienced fear, anxiety, and doubt, but because he felt a calling that he refused to give up. Though he often questioned the wisdom of God’s plan, he never wavered in his faith.

On May 9, 2013 at 2:30 AM Ben peacefully passed from this life to the next while surrounded by loved ones. The sword bequeathed to you represents Ben’s battle with cancer. Though he died, he did not lose his life to cancer. Long before, he freely gave his life to God to claim the victory that Jesus won at the cross.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?”
– 1 Corinthians 15:54-55