My boys


This boy really loves his kitty, enough so to lay like this for five minutes just to cuddle her.


This boy really loves his new snowblower, the one he's been waiting for for years. Now we just need some snow.... After our t-day travels!

Out of air?

Lex asked me tonight why we never run out of air on this planet. I answered with blah about exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide with plants and all that. He says, “I know, I know, but…” and proceeds to clarify his point. If we breath in one “air” (which equals one oxygen and one carbon dioxide), use the O and exhale the CO2, which leaves one CO2 floating out there. A plant “breaths” in one “air”, uses the CO2, and exhales the O, leaving one O floating out there. The O and the CO2 find each other and merge. I’m with him so far. Then he says, “But that means there were two “airs” breathed in and only one breathed out. Why don’t we run out of air?” I really wanted an intelligent answer, but… I had nothing! I tried to make some blah blah guesses, but you can’t pull that wool over Lex’s eyes. I told him maybe his teacher knows, or daddy, because daddy knows everything. He said, “No he doesn’t. I bet he doesn’t know what it feels like to be inside a black hole.”

Just a usual bedtime with my boy. He’s ten and already a deeper thinker than I am. Tomorrow I’ll tell him to ask Alan.


#TBT to that time last month we did the CHaD!

I decided to do some blog cleanup today and remove a few things from the sidebar. Of course, that reminded me that I never wrote a blog post about the CHaD hike. Silly me! This year was less fun than past years, which maybe is why I didn’t enthusiastically rush home and do a post. Alan ran the 5K with a still-recovering calf muscle, and the kids and I did the 10k hike with Rosy. It was snowing in the morning on the way there, but the snow cleared and the sun came out. They change the hike route a bit, without any useful signage, so we were a bit confused along the way and we all agreed that the new route is much hillier! They have also been upping the registration fee and minimum donation amounts each year, and it’s getting pretty pricey for a family of four! I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot a bit and pricing out some families who have been loyal participants. I know a few who didn’t participate this year and we are unlikely to do it next year. I was thinking a nice check to Team Brady would be much easier and more enjoyable for most of us. :)

Anyway, we did it and I have the photos to prove it! (well, photos to prove Rosy, Eve, and Lex did it anyway ;) )


Eve loved the obstacle course before the hike.


She gets some good air!


It ended up being a beautiful day, once the snow blizzard passed.


This tree root provided a lovely spot to rest.


We even did some trail clearing along the way!

Awful day in school

Teaching is hard. The first year is hard. Everyone tells me this and everyone swears it’s true. Don’t give up, they say, stick with it. The first year is hard.

I’m only subbing, long-term, but so far things were going great. I was confident in my abilities, moving right along, getting things done, and we were doing ok. Then this week hit! I only have ten kids, and a few of them are challenging, but I have enough easy-going ones to balance it out and keep the class going. Not this week. Monday was tough and Tuesday was tougher. Wednesday I made a plan and made some changes. Today I tried again. It was a mess! I found myself apologizing all day to any grownup around, swearing that my class isn’t usually this awful. Even the easy-going ones were falling apart on me, wandering around, making random noises. Trying to gather them for morning meeting was like herding cats, just when you get one to the rug another wanders away. It was chaos. Fortunately it’s only half day! The weather is dreary and drizzly, and there was some talk of indoor recess, but I said no way! Out we went. It wasn’t really raining, maybe just a little moist. They needed it. I needed it!

Now I need a new plan, and apparently some serious work on my classroom management skills. I thought I was doing well, but ugh, maybe not! All day I kept thinking “I’m no good at this, I can’t handle it,” but then the voices of many experienced people filled my head, reminding me that the first year is hard. Even though I’m just the long-term sub, it’s still my first year (or half year, anyway) and it will be hard.

I need a nap.


Lex reminded me, via a conversation he was having with Eve, about the advent boxes. Once again they are very excited for them and once again I completely forgot. I feel like I had so much more time back in the day! Back when our life revolved around the home, not schools. December first is a measly 12 days away. I suppose now is a good time to start thinking about what to put in those boxes I love so much. Any suggestions?

A few more First Lego League Competition photos

One of Lex’s coaches put a bunch of pictures online from the FLL competition. Here are two I like a lot. :)

Lex's expression in this one cracks me up.  It was just a momentary camera snap, just  a passing expression, but so funny.   He wasn't at all annoyed.  He also looks much older in this picture.  :)

Lex’s expression in this one cracks me up. It was just a momentary camera snap, just a passing expression, but so funny. He wasn’t at all annoyed. He also looks much older in this picture. :)

This one caputures Lex and FLL perfectly!  He had just started his mission running and was excited to see it succeed (or IF it would succeed!)

This one caputures Lex and FLL perfectly! He had just started his mission running and was excited to see it succeed (or IF it would succeed!)

We also got a copy of the final scoring rubrics for the project, core values, and robot design presentations. The kids did amazing! Their robot didn’t score a ton of points on the field, but they did outstanding in the presentation. The comments included, “The team had vivid enthusiasm and were clearly having fun,” “The team was phenomenally compatible with each other,” and “respect and inclusion.” I’m so proud of how well they worked together, how well they support one another, and how well they perform. I couldn’t ask for better teammates or coaches for Lex.

One of the older kids suggested Lex take home the trophy for awhile and the coach agreed. When I questioned “wouldn’t an older kid, on their final year, rather take it first?” but the coach said they thought Lex would like it. Boy were they right! His face lit right up when I told him and he was so proud it carry it out of the building. Happiness is.

First Lego League Competition

We just wrapped up another year with Lex and his FLL team. This year they called themselves Reduce, Reuse, Robotics! They change the name each year to fit the theme. This year’s theme was TrashTREK, all about finding a better way to handle trash, or create less of it in the first place. They changed the requirements this year and we had to compete within the state of Vermont, so we were at a different place today, but mostly it’s all the same. The kids did a great job and had lots of fun.

The day was split in half with the projects and presentations in the morning, and then the robot competitions in the afternoon.


Their project this year was on how to increase recycling in school. Their idea was to have a team of students run the recycling program, and to make it more fun! I volunteered to run the project part of the competition this year and it was fun. We didn’t win any project awards, but we did ok.


Revving up for the Core Values presentation. This is one that the coaches and families can’t watch. The kids go in and are presented with a challenge (completely unknown before that moment) and they have to work together to solve the problem. I heard rumors after the fact that this year’s challenge involved hula hoops. I haven’t gotten the full story yet.

It’s always a long day with lots of waiting around. They have a total of 37.5 minutes where they’re actually doing something, and the rest of the day is spent waiting. Good thing there are usually lots of things to watch and see and do!


Turns out there were a few hockey games going on in the same area we were in at Norwich University. We watched a bit of hockey off and on, but I think they had the most fun cheering on the zamboni! (that’s what they are doing here)


Lex, driving a First Robotics Competition robot. This what the high-schoolers do after they’ve aged out of FLL. Eve got a turn to drive too. The whole thing is controlled by that game controller in his hand.


Meet Bud the robot Bud (Abbot), his friend Lou (Costello) was back at the lab. Eve LOVED this little guy!


Bud can sit down, stand up, walk forward, backward, and even sideways! He can also hold your hand and walk with you, recover and stand back up when he falls, and…


Bud knows karate!


Eve was fast friends.


If anyone has $16K laying around and is looking for a gift for Eve….

After lunch it was robot time! They had three separate matches, each 2.5 minutes long. It’s hard to get good pictures because the set up wasn’t great, but Alan took tons of pictures and videos that he posted on Google+. Some of them may be better than what I got.


Time for the actual robotics competition!

Between matches we did decided to get some fresh air!


Rolling down the hill. Everybody needs a break sometimes.


Lex and his friend were in awe at being so close to a school bus. They even stuck their heads right under (it was safe, don’t worry) and got a good look!


Hahaha… they tried hard to take down the goal post! Fortunately they were not successful!


Eve thought this would be a good way to go down the hill. Guess who is now completely covered in grass stains!

By the end of the day everyone was wearing out! We had about 40 minutes to wait before the closing ceremony and I saw a whole lot of tired kiddos!


By the end of the day they were all getting worn out. This scene made me laugh with five of them behind the table, snugged with the jackets, and cozying up together to read and play on the iPads.


I love that they are playing chess together on the iPad! Of course, they played plenty of Minecraft too!

During the closing ceremony they give out the awards. The team didn’t have strong robot this year and didn’t earn many points, so I think everyone was surprised (and excited!) when they heard Reduce, Reuse, Robotics called!


They won an award! Truth be told, we were all surprised! They won the mechanical design award again, just like last year, for their “super slidey slick thing,” (or “slidey thing,” as Lex prefers) which is a method of attaching the interchangeable pieces needed for the different missions. It makes it quicker and easier for them to switch attachments in the middle of the competition.


I couldn’t get a good picture! Too many distractions. Eve being just one of them! :)


Guess who got to take this trophy home tonight?! Oh yeah, I have one happy boy this evening.

It was a long, but fun and satisfying day! I even got a sweet thank you for helping with the project. :) Not that it’s about me, of course, but it did make me smile.


Awww… Coach Tessa. :)

Falling apart

If there is one thing I’ve learned about this family in the past ten years is that we do not do well when life is too busy. When the kids were younger I used to joke with my friends about that magic spot when the kid had just about had enough and you know it’s time to leave. You don’t want to leave when everyone is still having fun, but if you miss that magic window then all hell breaks loose. Things are different now and we don’t have to leave as many playdates in the nick of time, but instead I find that as the days and weeks fill up I still have to look for that specific moment. We don’t want to miss out on the fun, but there is that moment, that tipping point, and if you miss it then all hell breaks loose. That was tonight.

We’ve had several busy weeks. Field hockey ended, just as Lego League was ramping up. I’d have to go back through my calendar to figured out where all we’ve been, but I know it included many late lego nights, PTO meeting, movie night at school, and more! Tonight Alan and I were supposed to go out, but we knew by 4:30pm that that wasn’t going to happen. Eve was on the floor in tears, Lex was completely zoned out, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how all of that, plus a babysitter for the kids and a late night for the grown-ups, would translate into tomorrow’s full-day Lego League Competition. I’m pretty sure it would have been a disaster. So we canceled the babysitter, canceled our plans (that’s life with kids, right?!), and stayed home, which ended up being a disaster in and of itself. Ugh! Hopefully after tonights complete and total meltdown, and the ensuing early bedtimes, hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly. Hopefully!

Our new mantra around here is “just one more week,” until… well, until another busy weekend! I’ll be rearranging a few things for next week because we need a break! Fortunately after tomorrow the late-night lego meetings will be over. It’s time for this over-booked family to settle down!

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to me! Thirty nine. That’s a big number. It was a lovely day. Rainy and cold, but that’s ok. I spent the morning in preschool, thankful for this great job. Then I met a friend for lunch and she happened to see on FB that it was my birthday and insisted on treating. Delicious food, great company, no cost! After school the kids had friends over and they all played happily while I drank tea and read the newspaper. Then we all had evening meetings. Alan had an energy thing, Lex had his Lego League, and I went to the PTO meeting. Eve joined me and played with all the other kids there. Then home for bed, wine, Colbert, and cozy new sweats from Rosy! Life is good.

Boys and girls

The kids both have friends over right now. The boys are in the living room, in the dark (at 4pm because winter, ugh!), playing Minecraft. The girls are upstairs, blasting music, singing their hearts out, and doing artwork (at least last time I checked on them). Gender stereotypes abound, but everyone is happy. :)