Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dear William (80 months)

Dear William,
Today you are 80 months old!!

We started off the month with S P R I N G  B R E A K and a weekend camping trip to Salida, where daddy ran a trail marathon.

You and I found an adorable place called Café Dawn, where you ate a piece of coffee cake for breakfast. When the waitress came over to check on us and asked you how you liked your coffee cake, you said it was deeee-licious. She asked if you'd like another piece and you said, "Yes please." You are so cute.

Then you ran a kid's race. I think it was a 400m dash.  Usually in these things, you get scared and let the other kids rush past you. This time you held your own and finished near the front of the pack. You said, "I'd like to do another lap." And so you did.

After we got home from Salida, we spent a lot of time studying astronomy during Spring Break.  You listened to the Liftoff Podcast "Moon Draft" episode three times, and then you made your own moon draft.

You are particularly fond of Ganymede.

You asked me to take you to the library to check out planet books, but really, I think that was a subtle ploy to get to use their iPads.

You did find some good books though.

It is always good to keep this in mind.

At the end of your spring break we took another camping trip to Monument Valley, Utah (and Arizona), on the Navajo Nation.

Utah is rad.

You read to us about the planets, and then we looked out at the sky and saw a big star that wasn't a star at all: it was Jupiter.

You and I took a hike in Caynonlands National Park while daddy went for a run.  You made up stories about the planets the whole time. You were so engrossed in your stories, you forgot to complain about being made to hike, but I don't think you even noticed the beautiful landscape all around you.

"And then Jupiter's Great Red Spot said to Saturn's rings..."

You ran with daddy on his way back to the trailhead.

Monument Valley is so beautiful. 

You were such a trooper while mommy and daddy took turns taking care of you and running.  On the way back home we stopped at a dinosaur-themed theme park in Moab, and you had a blast. Mostly you played in an old Utah-style pick up truck that was part of the playground.

You also pretended to be a dinosaur doctor and counted their teeth.

Right after we got home from Spring Break, there was a snowstorm that was so bad school got cancelled.  You couldn't jump on the trampoline that day, but we baked banana bread, made play-dough, and otherwise kept ourselves entertained with books and toys and cartoons.  And planets.

The snow melted quickly enough, and soon you were back out on your bike. You rode in the dirt and I ran along beside you. I was so happy you thought this was fun.

It was hot that day, so we needed a refreshing drink when we got home. We took the juice of 2 lemons, some ice, some water, a drop of peppermint extract, and blended that up. Then we poured it into glasses with a peppermint candy on the bottom. You were a big fan.

We attended a few events put on by the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society.  One was a talk about Pluto's moons.  We had to leave soccer practice early to get there on time.  You were so good sitting in the audience. You were the only kid there.  When the speaker was done giving her presentation, she asked if there were any questions. You looked like you really wanted to say something, but I had no idea what it was. You whispered to us that you didn't raise your hand and ask in front of everybody, so we waited until everybody was filing out, and we went down to talk to the speaker.  

You asked her: "How much bigger than Ganymede is Mercury?" After some discussion, she explained that it is like how you are the third tallest kid in your class. Mostly, the first graders are similar in size, but some are a little bigger than others.  You are like Ganymede. Your more petite classmates are like Mercury.  The speaker did not seem concerned in the least that your question had nothing to do with Pluto or its moons.

Later, when I asked you what you learned from the talk, you said you learned that Nix (this is one of Pluto's moons) has a red spot on it because it got hit by something big that knocked off part of the surface, and the red stuff is the material underneath Nix's icy exterior.

We also went to a Northern Colorado Astronomy Night, where you got to look through a giant telescope at Jupiter.  We could see bands of tan, white, and orange on the planet, but not the great red spot.  It was cloudy that night.  We also could see the four Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. (You can name them in order, I always have to look it up).  I think seeing this impressed me more than it did you.  You were just kind of like, "Neat."  You spend so much of your time looking at pictures of the planets, drawing pictures of them, reading or having me read to you books about the planets, that actually looking through a telescope and seeing them really is kind of like no big deal.  You know they're there.  They're practically all you think about, all the time. And maybe it is more impressive to look in a book at picture of Jupiter than to see it, kind of grainy and very far away, through a telescope, on a cold night.  Even so, I think we'll keep trying to go back to these astronomy club meetings.  The people there are really nice and they know so much about space.

Will, you're the best.
Love always,