We visited Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) this afternoon. Our third in-person college tour. It’s interesting to see how each school greets prospective students, what information they focus on at the visits, what parts of the campus they show, etc.

RPI is apparently a pretty prestigious engineering school, but we all kind of agreed that they didn’t put their best foot forward. The tour started with a luke-warm welcome at the admissions building, an old building with even older white guys pictures hanging on the walls. It was clear their heritage was important, however the dirty/broken bathrooms and abundance of sticky sanitizer everywhere did nothing to enhance the perception of prestige.

The student leading the tour was friendly and knowledgeable about many things, but she glossed over the two areas of interest for my group, comp sci and physics. She was a chemistry major and apparently knew little about the other majors. The campus is sprawling and full of old, old buildings. The school was founding in 1824 and the buildings look the part. Many have their build date carved above the entrances. She took us through dark hallways and into a basement-ish classroom. She showed us a dorm that was very institutional looking, small and dark, and not at all inviting. One of the parents asked if it was an older dorm and the tour guide said “Yes, our newer dorms are bigger and air conditioned.” Umm… why are you showing us this scary prison dorm then?!?

They had one really nice, new building that was impressive. She said it was built with money from an anonymous donor, with the stipulation that it would be used for offices, not classrooms. What?! It was a nice looking building though, and the tour maybe should have started there. They also have a really nice auditorium space with lots of opportunities for music and performances, including stage and tech crews. That caught Lex’s attention.

Back through some other old buildings, then the tour guide left us in the parking lot. It was weird. We weren’t entirely sure what to make of the whole thing, but definitely didn’t walk away feeling amazing about RPI.

After charging up at the mall (the car and the people) we continued on our route to Rosy’s house. It was a long drive and we were all very tired.

Lex is ready to start filling out the Common App to apply to WPI and Champlain. We are also going to tour MIT this fall, so he might add that to the list as well. He was undecided about RPI as of this afternoon.

My rock star’s final HPAC

So many years ago tiny little Lex joined the Hartford Performing Arts Camp and today he did his final HPAC performance. It was a little bittersweet, but mostly just AMAZING!! He has come so far and I love everything about him. I found myself recording every song. You can watch the playlist on YouTube, if you want to.

I grinned from ear to ear throughout the whole show. This evening he took a little stroll with me down memory lane as we watch the videos from the first year and remembered how it all began. He then pointed out that he’s currently wearing the green HPAC shirt from that first show! It was too big then and it’s a little small now, but he still loves it. It felt like a poetic way to wrap up his HPAC experience. I will be forever grateful to the music teachers at all three schools for guiding Lex through his musical discovery and setting him on what will hopefully be a life-long journey. 💗

Camp Update

I got my babies back today. Yay! They had a *great* time at the Governor’s Institute. This morning there was a whole presentation where the director talked about the experience and showed a slideshow of everyone’s final projects. Then we had time to walk around and check out all the final projects. They ranged from digital designs, to video games, to physical robots and “makerspace” projects. They were all pretty cool.

Eve made a really neat wooden box with her drawings engraved in the side. She also created the graphics for a video game that Lex programmed, and a screen printed poster of the game logo. They had fun working together. They also both joined a Dungeons and Dragons group and are now fully addicted. 😄

Eve also made cool/weird/pretty earrings and a little mushroom out of clay and paint. They are adorable, but the earrings are huge. :)

After we were packed up and checked out, we headed to Church Street for yummy bagel lunch and Lake Champlain Chocolates ice cream. We also made a stop at the local game store to buy D&D dice. Yep, they are hooked!

Alan took Lex and Eve back to his house for a bit while I dropped B’Lake off at his Governor’s Institute mathematics camp. It was a very different drop off experience than last week with Lex and Eve. For the math camp they were disorganized, lax, and extremely informal. I hope it ends up being as much fun for him as L&E had.

Em the snail went to camp to keep B’Lake company. 💙💛

After dropping him off I stopped at Alan’s house to pick up the other two and we headed home. Huxley was VERY glad to see the kids again! He slept in his crate every night this week and is definitely missing his cuddles with Lex. 🤗

Tomorrow we’re off on another adventure! Life is good.

Governor’s Institute

Eve and Lex are spending the week at a fancy tech camp called the Governor’s Institute. The camp is held at Champlain College, a beautiful location on Champlain Lake. I dropped them off yesterday, in the rain. I was a weird nervous person trying to be double sure on the parking and plans. I think I drove Lex crazy. LOL. The camp is a super cool camp. Lex and B’Lake did it last year, but it was virtual due to Covid, so it was fun, but not AS fun as in-person. This year Lex and Eve signed up for the “technology and design” session and B’Lake signed up for the “mathematics” session, which is next week.

Eve was up at 4:30am, feeling anxious, I think. She didn’t say as much, but she said she had a stomachache and worried she might have Covid (she tested negative before I even work up). She was excited and nervous, so I knew it was all ok.

I helped them both get packed, ran a few errands with Eve (she needed headphones and Lex needed laundry detergent –he’s planning to do laundry!), then we headed to college. It was a super weird experience.

I don’t think I was too much, but by the end when I wanted one pic of the two of them together, Lex was done with me. :) I jokingly said something about Lex being ready for me to leave and he less jokingly said yeah, he was. :) That boy is exactly where he should be for a rising senior!

Eve, on the other hand, needed extra hugs, texted me before I was even home, and called me at night. She said she was having fun, but that there was a lot of people and activities and she was very tired. I’m hoping she’s having a good day today. She texted me a picture of the clouds this morning, so that’s a good sign.

Red sky after the rain.

One of these things is not like the others…

DBS had a spring concert tonight. We had to break it into two concerts this year, K-2 and 3-5, which is better than the no concerts from the past two years. The K-2 concert went off without a hitch, but the 3-5 concert the following week had to be rescheduled when our music teacher tested positive for Covid. The concert was pushed back a week and now on a Friday night, so not everyone could attend.

Our music teacher is super awesome and super cool, but also gets super anxious about stuff and when she found out she would be missing one or more percussionist she kinda freaked out. She was debating having her fiancé (a fellow musician) step in, but worried about the look of that. So I volunteered Lex! :) He took the news very well and put on concert attire and came with me to the concert without any fussing.

The music teacher introduced him to the band before the show started and he was a shining example of how practice pays off. They were impressed with him. We’re all pretty impressed with him. The boy who would barely do his own elementary school concerts is now happily helping out six years later. 💗

Boston Museum of Science

We wrapped up Lex’s birthday weekend with a trip to the Boston Museum of Science today. It was a beautiful day for a road trip. We got there by mid-morning, explored the museum, watched the cool lightening show, had some expensive cafeteria food, and generally enjoyed ourselves immensely.

All about Lex

This handsome fellow had a birthday recently. He is thriving in all ways. We had a quiet birthday celebration with just a few gifts — cookies, books, Legos, and money — just what he wanted! :) Here are a few pics of my favorite 17yr old!

Spring brings concerts and plays as well, which Lex has been rocking. He had his spring concert, a district music festival, the high school musical and the middle school musical – both of which he ran the lights for. He even went in early before the spring concert so he could program nice lighting for the concert.

He won a few awards this spring too! At the spring concert he was given the Spirited Percussionist award, in celebration of Armand Zildjian. It came with a nice certificate, a personal note from a guy named Damian Poludin in Texas who manages (runs? is in charge of?) the award. It also came with a check an a cool laptop backpack with drumstick holders for percussionists. It’s pretty cool. He was pretty proud of himself. I am too!!

Yesterday I got a text from Eve saying “Lex just won an award.” I was confused because it was the middle of the school day. Lex replied, saying it was a “come to this college” book award and he was mostly just excited for the book. Apparently they announced a bunch of “college awards” over the loud speaker. So random! :) When I got him he showed me the certificate and note that says he can get his application fee waived and qualify to apply for an annual scholarship. Yep, definitely sounds like a “come to this college” recruiting award. Sadly he didn’t actually get a book. They gave him a paperweight instead. I’m not sure what the deal with that is. I told him to ask the counselor, but he said no. :)

I’m so proud of this kiddo. I miss the tiny baby and curious toddler (though I don’t miss the tantrums!), but I love seeing how well he has grown up and how happy he is with life in general.


Big little things around here

Eve come home yesterday with a few forms to show me. She started pulling them out of her bag and announcing them — course planner for next year, course selection sheet, and a drivers ed application. DRIVERS ED?!? I was NOT prepared for that.

I have been bugging B’Lake to bring home an application so he can take drivers ed this summer. Lex got his license and I was prepared to do the next two in order. The idea that Eve could take drivers ed this summer NEVER even occurred to me! Of course, she will be old enough and could have her permit in time, but in my head it was one kid at a time, not two at once!

Also, Lex and B’Lake are at a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) meet this weekend. They left with their team after school this afternoon, which means they were packing and prepping last night and this morning. This is the first time Lex is off on his own. Not really on his own, of course, but not with parents or grandparents. They are staying in a hotel and taking the bus to and from the competition. Unfortunately (for me) FRC isn’t allowing non-team attendees, so I can’t go watch.

Lex joined the team his freshman year and we went to our first FRC competition in March 2020. Two weeks later the world shut down and all further FRC competitions were cancelled. We all really enjoyed the competion and were bummed that we couldn’t attend any more. Last year the season was all virtual, which wasn’t much fun for Lex. This year they are back in person and able to hold the competitions, even without an audience. I’m happy the kids can do this, even if I can’t be there to watch. :) Luckily they will be livestreaming it, so if you want to follow along, you can do so here: https://www.thebluealliance.com/team/95

I’ll be watching and cheering them on! Maybe my buddy, who can’t possibly be old enough to take drivers ed this summer, will watch with me.

Car Trouble

Lex drives Eve to school each morning, but yesterday they had to go early because Lex had jazz band rehearsal. Eve didn’t want to wait in the school, so Lex let her wait in the car. He told her to turn it off and lock it when she came inside. Apparently she locked it, but didn’t turn it off. In the Tesla you don’t have to turn it off and Lex says his car normally turns itself off after 10 minutes with no key (Eve took the key into the school with her), but for some unknown reason the car didn’t turn off. Later in the day someone told him his headlights were still on and when he got out to check it out the battery had died. 

He texted me mid day and told me the car was dead. My school day was already stressful, so I told him I’d be there after school to get him and we could figure it out then. After school finally came and it was cold and raining. The car was definitely dead. We walked around the parking lot for a bit, looking for an outlet. No luck. However, I did noticed the Rapid Rescue trucks setting up for the weekly vaccination clinic in the parking lot. I accosted some young guy in a Rapid Rescue shirt and asked if we could borrow a generator. He was nice enough to help us out and brought over a generator. He got it running and we plugged the car in. No luck. The car wasn’t charging from the generator. We called Alan for advice and he suggested the smaller starter battery was dead and needed a jump start. Ugh.

I returned the generator to the Covid folks and asked about a jump start, but by this point the clinic had begun and the guy I returned the generator to was less friendly than the first guy, and he said he just couldn’t help at all. Which is totally understandable.

I sent an SOS email to my lovely neighborhood list serve and 10 minutes later my neighbor Sally was there. She had jumper cables and an functioning vehicle. We hooked it all up, but still couldn’t get the car running. We left it hooked up for awhile then tried again. No luck.

By this point we were 90+ minutes into dealing with this, in the rain and encroaching darkness, so I was just ready to give up. I called a tow truck and went home.

The tow truck driver had a jump start kit and was able to get it started enough to release the clutch lock and roll it onto the flatbed truck. At the house he hooked the jump start kit back up and rolled it into the garage. We plugged it in and checked it a few hours later. It was charged and started up with no trouble. Thankfully!!!  

Minecraft in School

Lex had a project for his social studies class (Conflict, Chaos, and Counterculture) and he used Minecraft to show three different examples. I am SUPER impressed with how cool this looks. He showed me his work along the way and I was so impressed at every step.

This shows the whole scene. It makes me think of a digital diorama. On the left is the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the center shows the Jan 6th insurrection, and the right side shows a BLM protest in New York City.

I have heard a lot about using Minecraft in education, but this is the first real project that I’ve seen that really makes sense. Lex did a lot of reading about the events and looked at a lot of photos to create these scenes.