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!


The trophy table!

match room

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

smiling eve

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.

match 1 - p1

The first match of three.


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!

match 1 - p2

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

design presentation

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

lex watching

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

lego office

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.

tired team

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. :)

big screen

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.

reading eve

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.


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.

at home

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.

First Lego League Competition

This year Lex joined the local First Lego League group and finally found his tribe. :) There are ten kids in the group and they have been meeting twice a week for the past few months, designing and building a robot to complete a variety of challenges (aka “missions”). Today was the big competition. Nineteen teams from around the area competed in robot missions, design challenges, team work exercises, and presentations. It was a full day for these kiddos and a day of firsts for Lex! Overall it was AWESOME!!

The event started at 8am today at Dartmouth College. Lex and I went while Alan took Eve to karate. Suddenly we are that over-scheduled family! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but parents from last year said there is a lot of waiting and just hanging out. I personally felt the day flew by! Alan brought Eve over around 11:30 and I was having a great time hanging out. I loved watching the kids on the team work and play together. You could clearly see who had been there before (the older kids) and who was new (the younger ones) and how they went about things differently.

hanging out

#10 Pencils, hanging out before the events begin.


My #1


#10 Pencils, getting ready for their turn.

final updates

Lex gets final updates on the mission order before their first match.

design meeting p1

Part of the competition is a presentation and demonstration of their robot design. Each person had to read a part and then they all had to answer questions.

design meeting p2

Question time.

design meeting p3

I love how Lex stepped right up to answer questions without hesitation. He was so confident!

design meeting p4

Team picture!

challenge meeting p1

Another part of the competition was to solve a non-robot challenge. This years challenge was to design a new way to teach someone something. Their team came up with a new way to teach someone to run. Then they had to present it to the judges.

challenge meeting p2

He looks so little in this group! He did great though.

Eve and Alan got there right around lunch time. We had some lunch, hung out, went to one of the team’s presentations, and then Eve talked me into leaving. More like she wore me down with her whining. I was conflicted because I had told her ahead of time that Alan and I would probably switch off and that she wouldn’t have to be there all day, however I was having fun and really didn’t want to leave! I didn’t want Alan to miss out on the whole thing either though, that didn’t seem fair. I begrudgingly left around 1:30 and we went home. Eve wanted to play house and dolls and all I wanted to do was text Alan to see how it was going. We settled on reading, which I did not do very well. Eventually she asked if she could play on the computer and I flopped over on the couch and took a nap!

Alan took a video of their third match and sent it to me. It made me very happy. The team had tried the “sports” mission (where the robot throws the ball into the net) twice before and each time it missed, but this time they got it! Hence the cheering. :)

Lex and his team ended up winning an award for Best Robot and progressing to the championship round next month!! I am super happy and excited for them!! It will be a busy day and I am totally looking forward to it! Alan is excited because the championship is held at his old high school. :)

award ceremony

The team won an award for the best robot design. Alan sent me a picture. :)


The actual award. I wonder what they will do with it.

Lex today wore a shirt that matched everyone else’s (or at least 10 other people), stood in front of a group (twice) to do a presentation, and happily survived a day full of noise, people, and chaos. I’m so proud of him!! He is growing up into such a strong, smart, fun little guy. I’m so glad that he is introducing us to this fun new world. That’s one of the many joys of parenting, all the places your children bring you. I think my parents would agree with that!

A return to chaos


We unorganized the Legos today.  Sorry Joyce, it seems we just can’t maintain order without you around!


The cabinet still needs to be emptied, then we will use it to display FINISHED pieces only!  The rest will be returned to the sheet and then into the giant bucket!

PS. Joyce, Lex told me the other night that there is a small, half-built car in the Lego pile that you built. He said he never takes pieces off of it because it reminds him of you and make him feel happy. :-)

My geeky kids

Today I am thankful for my geeky kids. While others are playing video games and chugging diet coke, mine are conducting science experiments on liquid densitys and building everything out of paper and Legos. Some may call them deprived (What? Can kids survive today without video games and cable TV?!?), but I call them geniuses!! Maybe I’m just a little biased.

science rocks

Science rocks!


See those brains at work?!


Eve put a lot of things in her glass.


The neighbor came over and they all got a little crazy with their additions. They both ended up with pretty full cups and I think the experiment went from learning to just plain silly.

On to another day. Lex got a pen light from Grandpa and was thrilled! That same day he also discovered a use for the breast pocket on his PJs. :)


Nerd alert! :)

After quiet time I asked him if he was going to draw Transformers all afternoon, as he had all morning. He replied with, “Actually, I might spend the rest of the day building a Lego stationery case so I don’t have to put all of this in my pocket.” This amuses me on many levels. One, because he said “stationery case” instead of pencil box or something more basic. And two, because he said “so I don’t have to,” as though there was any good reason that he DID have to carry a pen, a pencil, a pen light, and two pins in/on his PJ pocket. Like those were necessary tools for a Saturday afternoon and his day would just be easier if he had a Lego stationery case. Funny boy. He ended up drawing Transformers all day anyway. I guess the stationery kit will have to be a project for another day.

A tiny LEGO sewing machine

Lex wanted to make this post himself, but I’m tired of waiting for him so I’m going to do it. He likes to talk about blogging, but so far he shows very little interest anything that involves much typing. I’m thinking about teaching him to touch-type. Do they still teach that in school? I was taught in high school, but I know kids these days are learning computer skills much earlier… but I digress…

Last week when my sewing machine was out and on the table, Lex started wondering if it would be possible to make a real working Lego sewing machine. We decided probably yes, but it would be hard. He decided he wanted to make a Lego model sewing machine instead, non-working. The next day, completely unprompted (great minds think alike!) Anna sent me a link to a Lego sewing machine tutorial. How timely! Lex was thrilled!

A day or two later Lex got to it on his mental to-do list and off he went. He made a few modifications, some he explained to me, others he didn’t. He was very proud of his final product and his personal touches. I was very proud of him and his excitement for even the littlest things in life!


A proud Lego builder!


The red disks off the end is a spool of thread. The other colored things in front are extra spools of thread. He thought it would be good to keep a few extras on the machine.


The tutorial says to use a “tiny hammer or a pick axe from a mini-figure” to make the foot. Lex was so excited to find an axe, but when he started building he said, “Oh, this is from a regular figure, not a mini-figure.” The axe was too tall. Never fear though, he just made the sewing machine taller to compensate! Nothing stops him!


The yellow squares are lights. His addition.

The whole time Lex was working on this, Eve and I were also playing with Legos. Eve had a continuing narrative that she and Lex were workers in the Lego Genius factory and I was trying to be a worker. I worked hard on a building (I’m not real creative with Legos!) to prove to her that I am also a Lego genius and should be allowed to work in the factory. I eventually convinced her and we all worked happily in the Lego Genius factory for awhile… until I got bored!

I don’t think I really qualify as a Lego Genius. I get bored too quickly. :)

Lex’s 7th Birthday, Day 3

Let’s just say I AM EXHAUSTED. There, I said it. I am tired and I am ready to not celebrate a birthday tomorrow! :)

Today we had Lex’s friend party. He invited nine friends (plus Lex and Eve equals 11!) One girl didn’t make it so we ended up with 10 kids total. I had the party mapped out and it went somewhat according to my plan. The glitch was that not all of them are as in to Legos as Lex is, so my “free play with Legos” time ended up being “run around like wild men” time. They all had fun though, and no one got hurt or cried (much) so I’m going to call this one a success!

Eve fell asleep at 6:30 and Lex went to bed quite easily at 7pm, though he just now told us he can’t sleep so I let him sit in bed and read for awhile. I am going to finish this post, drink some tea, and go to bed!


Setting up the table. My birthday boy is so cute!

lego sheets

Alan and I debated for awhile on the best way to play with Legos outside. I thought the back deck, but I was worried about the kids sitting in the direct sun. We agreed on sheets in the shade on the front lawn. It went fairly well.


I thought the kids could color a Lego man coloring page that I printed while they waited for everyone to arrive. The kids thought otherwise and headed directly for the swingset.

relay p1

Once everyone had arrived we did a Lego relay.

relay p2

They had to run to the bucket, scoop out a Lego (the big Lego Quattro blocks), and carry it in a spoon back to their team's bucket. All without using hands, just the spoon.

relay p3

The kids all had a great time with this game! Lex's team agreed that since he was the birthday boy he should be able to use his hands. :)

relay p4

She did great! (only cheated a little! :) )

relay p5

This guy was fast!

lego time

After the relay was over they all headed for drinks and snacks, then settled on the lego sheets to build.

the lawn

It was peaceful for a bit.

blue tongues

Guess who's been eating the blue and green Lego block cookies? :)

cake p1

Cake time! The cake was a bit anticlimatic because Lex doesn't like candles or singing. I brought it out, asked who wants cake, and got only a mild interest. I don't think they realized it was a cake! A few kids appreciated my hard work before I cut it into pieces. Everyone happily ate it.

cake p2

Three Lego cake blocks with cake "bumps" and covered in fondant. I had a little trouble keeping it all pretty while stacking, but Lex was happy with it and therefore I was too!

lego games

I had lots of Lego games planned, but it was hard to keep them focused. Some of the kids wanted to play with Legos the entire time, but many others just wanted to run and be more physical.

tower building p1

This game was popular. They divided up into teams of two and had to build the tallest free-standing tower within a given period of time. They all quickly figured out the tall pieces, but struggled with balance and stability. Everyone (almost) had a great time with this game.

tower building p2

Working hard. Their tower fell over right before the time ran out.


Guess what Lex got for presents? Legos! Somehow he managed to get through this whole Lego birthday without getting any duplicate sets.


What? Caption this.

blindfold building

The crowd was getting out of control. I scrambled for ideas. I wanted to find another bandana or two and do a three-legged race, but I could only find two, so we did a blind-fold building challenge. This settled about half the kids. The other half grabbed a football and ran around.


Kids were loosing their shirts and shoes everywhere! We agreed that we're doing ok as long as none of the KIDS get lost!

lego man

I had a great clean-up crew today (and yesterday!) Eve had a rather unfortunate incident in the bathroom that resulted in me bathing her quickly, so Alan took point on clean up. He proudly announced that he finally found a body for the giant Lego head!

All in all a good day. Turns out bedtime will be a bit later than expected. This post took forever (maybe because I was doing three other things at the same time?) and Lex is having trouble falling asleep so he is downstairs with us again, reading with Alan.

I love my family.