Surgery update

Hey all, I think this blog is losing steam.  That makes me sad, but also not surprised with the influx of social media and group chats; plus my kids are getting bigger and less interested in having their private lives on public record; and that whole working thing that takes up a lot of my time these days!

I am gloriously home this week, relaxing on the couch and watching too much tv.  They call it “resting,” not something I’m generally good at! :)  Actually, this week we’re calling it “healing” and something that is very needed, mentally and physically!

Third paragraph and third time sitting down to write this.  Sigh.  Things are going well.  I’m healing.  My throat is feeling less sore and I haven’t taken an pain reliever since 1pm this afternoon.  :)  On Tuesday the ENT surgeon did a “quick procedure” (only 74 minutes fully sedated!) to remove some scar tissue from my trachea in an attempt to open up that airway and help me breath a little easier.  I’ve been dealing with this for awhile now and tried several different asthma meds first, with minimal success.

I’ve been on so many meds (pain relieves, antibiotics, stereoids, and the usual vitamins and stuff I take every day), that I haven’t really been able to tell if the surgery made any improvement.  Also, it’s not too hard to breath when you’re just sitting on the couch all day, not moving!  :)

This afternoon I took Arlo for a walk down the street and it was colder than cold so we walked at a very brisk pace!  It was not a long walk, but I found myself noticing on the way back that my breathing was up slightly, but in a natural “I’m walking fast in the cold,” sort of way, not the “I’m having trouble catching my breath,” sort of way that it has been for the past year or more.  I’m going to tentatively say the surgery was useful and worth it (the forced recovery time was definitely worth it as I’ve been running on stressed out fumes for awhile now!)

Yesterday I made it out for a few errands and lunch with a friend.  I was exhausted by the end and my throat was sore.  Today felt like “back to real life” with karate and Lego League practice requiring me to be up and out the door early.  Tomorrow is the Lego League competition and it will be a LONG, LOUD day!  I’m going to bring extra pain reliever, just in case!  Monday is a full day of school, and I’m already looking forward to Tuesday and Wednesday, my quieter days in the library!

Ok, outta here for now!  Lots to prep for tomorrow and we have to be out the door bright and early!

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. :)


Lex’s birthday is coming right up and I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around the number. I don’t know why, but 10 just isn’t sticking in my head. Eve and I were at the party store the other day getting supplies and I had her pick out eight balloons. I even grabbed a “8” balloon to go with the “Happy Birthday” balloon. I was just about to check out when it hit me that he is not turning eight!! Duh! We had to grab different balloons and sadly discovered that they don’t make “10” balloons. :( This double digits thing is going to take some getting used to.


Lex goes bionic for his birthday! He built himself a bionic arm with a ball shooter on the elbow and various sensors on the fingers. He’s pretty pleased with his creation. :)

Today, the 17th, was actually my due date with him, ten short years ago….. big belly, but no baby. (I love my blog!)

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.

A snowy day

The snow was perfect for packing today! Eve wanted a snow bunny, so we worked on that first.


I think the bunny came out pretty good!

snow bunnies

Snow bunnies!


The snow was really heavy!


Hard at work. It was great snow for building.


I love our snowman!!


The kids even gave it hands. :)

Back inside Lex finished building his EV3 R3PTAR (cobra-like robot) and it’s pretty cool.

Then we spaced out for the rest of the day. A little cleaning, a few games, lots of media and cookies. Vacation!

What’s going on…

Here’s a quick look at what’s going on in our world. What I’ve taken pictures of, at least!

snow eve


sledding eve

They still enjoy the tiny hill across the street.

snow lex

Lex loves his new jacket with the wrist covers.


Lex got his long awaited EV3 Mindstorm kit and, first things first, organized it. “I saw on a video that they said to do that first,” he told me. I wish that video had said to eat your veggies first. :)


A few videos from the past week…

Last weekend Alan made oobleck with the kids. They all loved it. :)

During the week while I was at orientation and Alan was home with the kids, Lex decided to make a top-secret surprise. He spent a full day in the office with a Top-Secret Work in Progress sign (I should have taken a picture of his cute sign!) hanging on the office door. One morning he emerged with this:

I had the camera on the wrong setting which is why that video is all orange. I paused it for a second and switched settings. Here’s the rest.

That’s what we’ve been up to around here. That and so much more! One more day at home then three of us are off to school!