Hi there.
This is me...a happy wife, mom to three awesome boys, teacher to two of the aforementioned boys (we homeschool), chauffeur to karate, archery and all sorts of other activities, former scrapbooker and founder of the 
Good Grief Blog.
Life is good.



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Toilets of Tomorrow

Yesterday, Micah's First Lego League (FLL) team competed in their qualifier event, along with 45 other teams. I've mostly been leaving FLL entirely to Micah and am so impressed with how well they did!

(I didn't actually get to the event until the end of the day, as I spent the morning at Noah's JOAD tournament. After that, Noah and I drove back from Longmont directly to the FLL event.)

So. Here's my understanding in a nutshell:

This was one of several qualifying events around the state. From each qualifier, a certain percentage of teams are invited to advance to the state competition in December. (From this one, 9 of the 45 teams advanced.)

The competition consists of four different parts:

  • robot design (teams met with the judges, showed off their designed robot and answered questions)
  • project (teams had five minutes to present their project to judges, offering a "solution" to a problem in the field of hydro dynamics (this year's topic), and then answered questions)
  • core values (teams were given a surprise, timed teamwork activity to complete in front of judges to demonstrate how well the team communicates and respects one another)
  • robot performance (after two practice rounds, teams got three timed rounds to try to earn as many points as possible by getting their robot to complete different missions...best round score was the score that stood)

So. Nathan got Micah to the event early and the team spent the morning getting through the first three judging events. According to Micah, things went well. He'd particularly worked on the project portion of things...writing the script and working on his numerous lines. The team, based on their project, picked the team name Toilets of Tomorrow and proudly pitched their idea after hours of practice runs. (Spectators weren't allowed at most things but Nathan took a video of the project presentation for me (and I'd seen a practice run a few weeks ago), and the robot performance rounds were open to the public.)

Noah and I arrived in time to watch the last two robot performance runs. Only two team members at a time were allowed at the table for each run:

And then we waited. :) 

The award ceremony gathered all 46 teams together where pins were distributed to all participants and then trophies were presented for each of the component parts and the overall top three.

The Toilets of Tomorrow took second in robot performance and third overall!!!

They were thrilled! And we're so proud of them all...they really did a fabulous job, especially considering this is the first time any of them has done this and that they're on the young end of the age bracket with two nine year olds, an eleven year old and two twelve year olds. Big thanks to their coaches, who, fortunately *have* done this before!

And now we're on to the state competition (which will be in December, on the same day as Noah's next JOAD tournament, of course, lol). :)


In between...

More to blog about tomorrow so here's a quick run-down of stuff that's been happening since my last post about a week ago...

- Asher and Micah have been to ten different karate things...classes, demo team practices and performances, and helping with the current black belt candidates' training. (They each agreed to help one of the candidates by being partners for self-defense drills throughout the training months.)

- Asher finished drive camp and had his first on-street driving session. I felt badly that I scheduled it during rush hour when the sun was in his face, but he handled it like a pro. We'll do some more time on our own before his next session. 

- We sampled more of the delicious pastries from La Creperie here in Fort Collins:

Um, yum!

- Noah completed job shadows at Ampt and Dresser-Rand. As part of his endorsed diploma for CEC and in an attempt to potentially line up an internship, he sent out inquiry letters to local businesses of interest to him and was fortunate enough to have an 80% response rate. He's got another one lined up for Monday at Wolf Robotics. 

- Noah's also registered for his spring classes, had archery practice a couple times, and gotten an actual hair cut (not by me). :) 

- We spent a fun family night at the theater watching the new "Thor: Ragnorok" movie...which was hilarious. 

- Nathan took me on a lovely date to watch "Once" at the Midtown Arts Center this past week. It's their final weekend, so I doubt you can get tickets now, but it was fabulous! Seriously, the actors were stupendously talented.

- Asher, Micah and I enjoyed a free local class this afternoon. The topic was graffiti and it was hosted at the Creative District as part of Hip Hop History Week with the Music District. A former graffiti artist, turned graphic designer, talked us through graffiti's place in hip hop and the different types of graffiti, along with the process. Then, we each got to try our own hand at it using paint markers...

And here's us with our "finished" pieces:

The boys started out skeptical, but we had a great time and are even looking forward to trying some more on our own.

And that's some of what's been going on around here. Happy November, y'all! 


Seventeen, Yesterday

Oy. My baby turned seventeen yesterday! He had class during the day but we took him out to dinner afterward, opened a few gifts and enjoyed playing his new game. See?

The dessert was ginormous! (and Asher loves to photobomb, lol) The top left shows the new game, Pandemic. It took us a bit to get set up and learn it, and we totally lost and died (it's cooperative), but we're looking forward to playing again soon. :) And, Noah started all three boys with Rubik's cubes lately (they're all pretty amazing at being able to solve them quickly), so Asher got him some new variations to play with. Noah solved this one in short order (and then Micah unsolved it...and then Noah solved it again...and then Micah unsolved it...you see where this is going?).

Also, here are our obligatory height comparison pictures from yesterday... :)

First, here's Noah with Nathan:

And last year (age 16):

And this year's picture, not much change:

And now Noah with me:

And last year:

And this year:

(Yeah, not much change, lol.)

Finally...Noah and his brothers:

Last year:

And this year:

(Micah would like me to tell you that he knows he has only one sock on. He cut himself the other day and had it bandaged. For whatever reason, putting on the second sock was too much work? He'd also like you to know that if canker sores were a person, he'd want to kick that person in the face. Yeah, the braces are giving him some canker sores and he's not happy.)

Anyhow. Back to Noah. :) It was a very low key celebration, he's happy, and now my baby is seventeen. Sigh.


Progress report

So. Last Saturday, Asher completed day one of Master Drive's drive camp. It's a special "add-on" to their drivers ed program that teaches skills like crisis braking, crash avoidance and visual processing. Students also get to experience their skid pad and practice how to correct out of a skid. All of that is completed on the private driving range (no other traffic) and concludes with a parent "recital" where Nathan and I got to ride along as Asher drove us through the course a couple times.

(Yes, this is the same program we had Noah go through the summer before he got his permit.)

Sunday, he finished the classroom portion of drivers ed and took the written test, passing with flying colors. :)

Today, I took him to the DMV, and (in relatively short order) he officially got his drivers permit!

This coming Sunday, he'll finish day two of the drive camp. He'll get more practice at the skills from last weekend, plus more time working on skid correction. 

Then, next Monday, he'll have his first of three two-hour on-street driving sessions (with an instructor in actual traffic, in their drivers ed vehicle).

After that, we'll be logging the required 50 hours of driving and 10 hours of nighttime driving and waiting the full year with the permit before he can take the driving test and get his license. 



Trick or Treat?

On Sunday, we finally got around to putting up a few Halloween decorations. It wasn't much, just enough to appease certain youngest sons who felt we needed *something* outside. ;) 

(We enlisted Noah's height...)

...and the Joker's wig from last year (that went unused in favor of coloring Micah's hair) ended up on McCoy (aka Bones).

Yesterday, then, for Halloween, I remembered to take pictures before it got dark:

I'm in the inflatable T-Rex (my costume is AWESOME). Micah's a dragonfly...because he loved the dragon mask and the butterfly wings and that's as far as we got in the costume aisle with him, lol. And Asher's a giant panda person (because who can resist a giant panda head that was on sale!). But. Sadly, the giant panda head was not great for visibility, so when he actually went out later that night he wore a skull mask:

And here's a better picture of Micah's dragon head:

Shortly after the pictures (and having required boys to add coats or at least long sleeves), I dropped Micah and Asher off to trick or treat with friends. They had a fabulous time and brought home a *big* haul of candy (though I had to confiscate about 20% of Micah's on account of his braces...which made him sad but made Noah pretty happy, lol). Apparently, there was much laughing together as they went from house to house singing Christmas carols (one of the friends was dressed as Santa) and other random things and trying to do a conga line to front doors. 

Meanwhile, back at home we had a very quiet Halloween. Our doorbell rang fewer than a dozen times...which made us very sad because we had a lot of candy to hand out (we've had lots of kids in the past) and because I was standing outside in my costume pretending to be a lawn inflatable and then roaring at kids as they came to the door...kind of like this:

...but in the dark it's scarier. ;) I only "got" a few kids and tried not to scare the little ones (waving and talking instead of roaring and jumping). But. I did startle Gabe as he walked up to the door to join us for his traditional "not trick or treating and just hanging out time" with Noah. That was great fun and made the waiting outside for more kids who didn't come worth it. :) 

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