Cookie crunch

The kids and I decided this year to give their teachers crafty reindeer bags filled with cookies for holiday gifts this year. Shhh… don’t tell. It seemed like a good idea until this past weekend when I sat down with the calendar to map out the next two weeks. Turns out to have an assortment of cookies available we have to bake cookies every day this week! I don’t remember ever being stressed about making cookies but somehow this year we are having trouble getting it done.

Then, this afternoon, I got a box of cookies from one of my students, a tin from Greg and Kathy (thanks!!), and a text from Rosy saying she’s bringing lots of cookies. Hmmm…. then it hit me why I’m stressed – school is out so early this year! Our last day is Friday the 19th, which is nearly a week before Christmas! So having all the cookies ready, to provide a variety for teacher gifts, we have to have all the baking done a week before Christmas. That doesn’t make any sense at all! Somehow that realization completely calmed me. I decided to scale back the treat bags and just relax! We made chocolate pretzel treats today, wrote holiday cards (check your mailbox… eventually!), sang carols, and had a lovely afternoon.

Sometimes you just have to step back, take a breath, and check your expectations.

Happiness is.

That hair!

I was combing Eve’s hair tonight, but we got a late start and it was drier than usual. I couldn’t believe how different the combed side looked from the tight-curl non-combed side. I commented to Eve and she wanted to see, so we busted out the camera. :)

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This is mostly combed, but you can see the non-combed on the left.

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Half and half. The combed side is twice as long! She has beautiful hair!

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She’s a beautiful girl, cat scratched face and all.

I love everything about this child. I feel so blessed to have her in my life.

Fun with friends

We had a fun afternoon with friends the other day.  (Tech trouble prevented this from getting posted for a few days.) Eve had a friend from school and I had Elizabeth.  Lex decided he would be happy with Alistair and we all had a great time.  Partway through the afternoon the girls decided to go outside.  The boys wanted to too, but A had no snow pants so they stay in and played a game instead.  Elizabeth and I drank tea and got caught up. 

After the friend left we all took a few minutes to breath.  Fun often equals loud and chaotic and we all needed a little downtime.  After awhile I put my mom hat back on and went to start the bedtime process.  This is what I saw when I went into Eve’s room:

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Plus Eve, curled up in her bed, surrounded by books.  No wonder they went outside.  There was no floor space left in the room!!  Amazingly she did a great job cleaning up, despite the late hour and busy day.  Lex too was curled up in his chair, book in hand.  In this house we love friends, but we also love quiet time with books!  💕📚📖

First Lego League (FLL) Championships!

Lex and his team, the #10 Pencils, spent Saturday at the FLL Championships in Nashua! The rest of us went along too. :)

We drove down Friday night to avoid a ridiculously early Saturday morning drive. Turns out we made a good choice because the weather Saturday was awful and it was nice to have a very short drive from the hotel. We got in late, basically went right to bed, and left early the next morning. Eve observed that we were at the hotel for less than 12 hours, probably our shortest hotel stay ever.

Saturday morning, bright and early, we were at the First Lego League Championships!

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The trophy table!

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The main event. This is where the matches were held. Also where the opening and closing ceremonies were.

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Eve was a good sport and spent her day tagging along. She brought books, coloring supplies, and stuffies to keep her busy.

Just like the Dartmouth one, this competition consisted of three matches where their robots competed against other robots to complete missions and earn points; a design presentation where the team presented their robot and demoed it for the judges; a project presentation where their presented their FLL project; and a “core values” meeting where the team had to meet with the judges, without coaches or parents, and demonstrate their understanding of FLL’s core values. They are scored on all four parts.

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The first match of three.

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Lex setting up the first mission. He had the most reliable program on his team. They ran it first every time and it worked every time!

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Lex, excitedly bouncing and flapping his hands as his program ran. :)

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The design presentation where they tell the judges about their robot, how they made it, why, and demo some of the attachments.

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In “the pit” (team table areas) all the teams had presentations of their FLL projects. Lex was fascinated by this one.

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This project was about learning in a classroom and they built a whole Lego classroom with working parts and all. It was pretty cool.

This is their second match. It didn’t go very well, but the video gives you an idea of how it all works. The robot drives around the table completing missions (pushing, pulling, opening, closing, etc.) and earning points for each one it complete successfully.

practice table

They had five practice tables available that the teams could sign up to use. Between matches the teams can refine and retest their robot and programs before their next match.

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They were all a little tired.

The main room had four tables, two by two, and two giant screens so everyone could see what was going on. They held matches on one pair of tables while the other pair was being set up for the next match. The whole thing moved very quickly. It took a few matches before the kids realized you could see them on the big screen… then they were all excited and waving to themselves. :)

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Lex on the big screen, setting up for their third match.

Lex’s team was done with all of their tasks by mid afternoon, then we had a few hours to hang out and wait until the final matches and closing ceremonies. Lex and his buddies played hide and seek while Eve entertained herself with more coloring and reading. It was less then thrilling, but the time passed quickly enough.

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Eve did this for a long time. She ended up laying down with the book on the floor. I thought she fell asleep for a bit. :)

Finally it was time for the final matches between the four highest scoring teams. It was amazing to watch. The top teams scored three to four times what the next highest teams did and they had some pretty amazing out-of-the-box ideas. After that was the awards ceremony, which was fun and entertaining. Lex’s team didn’t win any awards, but they did amazing and had a great time. I was so proud of them and Lex.

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While waiting for the final scoring there was a lot of dancing in the aisles. Everyone had lots of fun!

Lex came home full of ideas and enthusiasm for next year. He decided to set up his own test mat and missions. He has been working on it ever since. I love his excitement.

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Lex’s own mat and missions.

I have more and deeper things to say about Lex these days, but right now it’s late (I swear it’s always late!) and I’m tired (Story of my life these days!) so I’m going to bed. And by “bed” I mean to fold laundry, clean up the kitchen, have a snack, then go to bed. Sigh. Good night.

Quotes from Eve

While snuggling in bed last night she says, “I’m going to be an explorer when I grow up.” Silence for a few minutes, then “I guess an old fashioned explorer, one who uses maps instead of Google instructions.”

Just now as we’re heading into the big city of Manchester she says, “What are those big things up there?!  The things ahead with lights on them?”  Ummm… building, country girl, those are tall buildings. 

Love my country girl.

Happy Thanksgiving!

When I was taking the pictures off the camera for the holiday concert post, I realized I hadn’t taken the Thanksgiving pictures off yet either. Opps! So, here is a slightly belated Happy Thanksgiving post. :)

We had a great Thanksgiving this year. The weather forecasted a Nor’easter for Wednesday, so we decided at the last minute to drive Tuesday night. We packed up and headed out around 7pm, which ended up being great. The kids had some fun car time, then they fell asleep and Alan and I enjoyed some grown up time too.

At my parents house this year things were so calm. The kids and the dogs have all matured and gotten more comfortable with one another, so everyone enjoyed a calm, happy visit.

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We enjoyed the first real snowfall of the season.

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Eve in the snow. I love how the flash reflects off the snow flakes!

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I do not love how I have no ability to remove redeye from my pictures. I need to figure out a new photo… process, I guess. The boy is kind of cute anyway. :)

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Snowy devils

ipad time

What’s vacation without a little iPad time, snuggly on the couch.

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Eve was in charge of appetizers this year and did a phenomenal job of getting me and Rosy to do all the work. She’s tricky like that!

I realize I don’t have many pictures on my camera. I take fewer and fewer with my camera these days because the quality isn’t as good. Pictures on my phone come out better, usually, but I can’t save/store them like I can with my camera pictures. Alan promised to help me come up with a solution to this first world problem. In the meantime, lots of my phone pictures end up on Instagram… also down the side of this page. :)

Holiday Concert

The kids had their holiday concert this evening. I always enjoy seeing all the kids. I miss being at school every day. :) Eve was over the moon excited about this event. She has been singing and dancing and talking about it non-stop. She even asked for a new outfit, which I bought for her, and it’s been hanging in her room all week, tempting her. Tonight she finally got to put it on!! :)

Lex, on the other hand, was doing great until last night when he suddenly decided he was too nervous and wouldn’t participate. We had a nice chat last night and he came up with a plan to talk to his music teacher at the dress rehearsal. I reminded him that she is a professional performer and might have some advice about stage fright. He asked me to email her too, so I sent her a heads up that he would be asking for advice. He came home today feeling good and ready… almost. The solution they came up with was reserved front row seats (ended up being second row, but I’m not complaining!) for us and if Lex got too nervous he could leave the risers and join us in the audience. He liked the plan, but ended up too nervous to even get on the risers. I feel so bad for him and his fears. His classmates were encouraging (he had trouble in the dress rehearsal and at last year’s concert, so they know about fears) and the teachers were encouraging, but he couldn’t do it. He ended up sitting with us and enjoying the show from the audience. We all enjoyed Eve’s enthusiasm!

eve on the risers

Can you find Eve?

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Dancing girl!

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Just a little wound up after the concert.

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Pure silliness.

dancing girl hair

Who’s that girl with the curly curls?!

Probably no one is interested, but here are the three songs Eve sang. I love watching her and her classmates.

Happy Holidays!

Advent

The kids have been very excited for Advent boxes this year.  Alan and I once again spent the evening of November 30th up too late filling them. :-)  This year the project is extra challenging.  Those kiddos are going to have to work for their candy! :-)

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We had to work hard to get all the tiny pieces into the right boxes! They will love it.

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Advent boxes all ready to go.

I made these boxes and numbers so long ago, and they still make me smile every day.

New rooms!

We did it!  It’s done!  Ha!  Everyone is sleeping in new rooms tonight, but it is far from done.  The kids are both super excited… and over tired, over stimulated, and a little nervous too.  It’s a late night because we went out to dinner and to Home Depot for a few supplies, because what’s a home project without at least one trip to the HD!

Check out our work…

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Our room, still in progress.

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Eve's room. She was more interested in playing with newly discovered things than actually putting anything away.

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Eve's room.

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I love her new bed frame!

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Lex's room. His room is tidier because most of the clutter belonged to Eve.

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He wanted his bed on the opposite wall and we tucked the chair into the corner with a cozy reading lamp.

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Lex's Lego corner, minus any Legos yet.

We still have plenty to do, but I’m psyched about the progress we made today.  I won’t show you a picture of the dining room because much of the stuff landed on the table “to be dealt with later.” We had lunch in the living room and dinner at Panera Bread.  Lex was wondering where we would eat breakfast in the morning, so just now I rearranged the piles to make a little room at their seats. :-)

Truth be told, my heart hurts a little tonight.  They are excited and I know it’s right, but I have really enjoyed their time together. I think of them as peas in a pod and we share and share alike, but now we are separating.  While I was lying with Eve I was thinking about all the times they talked and giggled together at night (despite me telling them not to) and all the mornings they climbed into bed together to share their dreams and plans for the day.  Now they are apart and I know it’s only the beginning.  From now on things become his or hers, not theirs, and we put her things in her room and his things in his room and things are no longer “theirs.” I can only hope their bond stays strong as they grow into their own amazing selves. 

Tomorrow is a big day…

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The office is looking bare...

Look what we did today!  Guess what’s on the agenda for tomorrow?!  We moved a ton of stuff down to the basement, and also tidied and organized the basement.  It looks great!  I’m so excited.  Alan fixed the closet shelves, closet rods, and even the broken closet doors!  These things have been broken for as long as we’ve lived here and he fixed them an hour! 

I put the kids to bed tonight feeling a little sad that it might be their last night together.  For their whole lives they’ve shared a room, and I have been one door over.  This will be a big change for all of us.  They are excited, but I wonder how they will feel tomorrow night, in their own separate rooms.  We shall see.

The other fun thing we did today is…

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Chocolate peanut butter and white chocolate chip cookies!

Lex has asking for chocolate chip peanut butter chip cookies for weeks.  Today I asked if he wanted to make them.  We talked about the process and I agreed to stay near by and help, so he made cookies.  He did probably 80% of the work, including all the measuring, mixing, scooping, and oven transfers.  He was super proud of himself.  I’m going to encourage him to do it again soon, just for practice.  :-)

Check back tomorrow, if I’m not too exhausted I’ll post new pictures!