Christmas 2023

December 28, 2023 2:37 pm

With Christmas on Monday this year it, again, felt like a sprint to the finish. The girls had Friday off from school, but I was still working. So Saturday and Sunday were filled trying to get everything ready.

I used the weekend to bake! Peanut-butter blossoms, sugar cookies (the girls cut and decorated them), chocolate-cream pie, and crème brulée for desserts. Rolls for Christmas dinner, and baguettes to dip in cheese fondue for Christmas-Eve dinner. It took all day both days, but I got it all done.

For dinner on Christmas Eve we had our now-traditional cheese fondue with fresh baguettes, vegetables, apples, and whatever else we decide to dip. Corinne and Heather read a couple of stories, I played Christmas songs on my trombone (fairly poorly, but with all the baking I hadn't had time to practice that weekend or warm up), and Jess read a story.

This year, in an effort to help the girls develop the ability to consider the interests of others, we had gone to Barnes and Noble and had them select books for each other as gifts. And then Jess and I switched off with them to select gifts for each of us. So after our songs and stories we all opened our books from the girls, drank hot chocolate, ate cookies, and read a little from our new books while listening to Christmas music. With the fake fire glowing in the fireplace, just needed some snow falling outside the window to make it a perfectly pleasant evening.

The girls set out eggnog, cookies, and carrots for Santa and his reindeer and then they were off to bed.

In the morning we were up at dawn (which is the girls' usual time) to see what transformation had taken place in the house overnight.

Heather's Winter Concert 2023

December 15, 2023 4:15 pm

Heather switched to cello this year (in 5th grade violin was the only string option). So that means many of the kids in the orchestra, like Heather, have only been playing their instrument for about 3 months.

The school has a "beginner orchestra" and an "advanced orchestra." From what I can tell kids are in the beginner orchestra the first year they take the class at the school, rather than based on years playing their instrument. Otherwise any kid that took violin in 5th grade and continued with it would skip beginner orchestra and I don't think that's how it works.

The beginner orchestra played 2 songs, "Can Can" and "Shadow Dance." Here's their full performance.

Download here: Heather-Winter-Concert-2023-web (28 MB)

Thanksgiving 2023

November 23, 2023 8:30 pm

Thanksgiving was a quiet day at home. I took the week off. On Wednesday, I helped the girls make a pumpkin pie.

We played part of a game of a new board game I got on Wednesday from a Kickstarter called Familiars and Foes. You play as the familiars of a group of captured witches/wizards. You have to work together to defeat the foes and rescue the witches/wizards.

Heather's Birthday 2023

October 29, 2023 10:35 am

Heather had a recurring fever starting Friday afternoon through Saturday so we had to modify our birthday plans. Laser Tag and dinner out will have to be rescheduled but she was able to enjoy her Stardew Valley Birthday Adventure on Saturday afternoon.

October has been jam packed this year with something going on every weekend. Lambtown and a birthday party the first weekend, the eclipse the second weekend, Mom & Dad & Will (Erin was supposed to come too, but needed to stay to tend to children injured in a car accident) visiting for the Lab Open House on the third weekend, and Heather's birthday on the fourth weekend.

So the Birthday Adventure I designed this year was a little less involved, but since Heather was sick that ended up working well. It was Stardew Valley themed this time and started with her receiving a letter like the character in the game does. The letter invited her out to the garage to plant some Moonflower seeds.

After completing her planting it was suggested she return inside to check out the community center and see if she could help fix it up. In the game the community center has been abandoned and you have to donate specific items in bundles to help restore it and when you do magical creatures called junimos fix things and give you rewards.

So Heather worked on completing 4 bundles: The Birthday Bundle, The Fall Bundle, The Family Bundle, and the Random Bundle.

The Birthday Bundle: 12 candles, 3 bows, 1 drawing of a cake
The Fall Bundle: 100 fallen leaves, 1 mug of hot apple cider, 1 pumpkin
The Family Bundle: 4 books (1 that each family member likes), 1 song played on the cello, 10 cat hairs
The Random Bundle: Write and recite a haiku about a narwhal, 4 dice showing unique numbers which sum to 12, 5 dragons

As she collected the indicated items she would unlock the room behind each bundle which contained a junimo and a piece of a code puzzle.

With all the bundles completed she was able to decode the Junimo Code and unlock the Ancient Junimo Cryptex (the code was "GEODE").

Inside the cryptex was a thank you letter from the junimos and a map of the house with the location of hidden geodes marked.

By the time she had found all the geodes she was getting a bit tired, so the length seems to have worked out well.

After completing her adventure she opened presents.

Then she went back to resting on the couch. Dinner was her choice, Stuff Stacks, and after dinner was cake: chocolate cake, vanilla cream filling, white frosting with sprinkles on top.

We opted to cut a slice off and put the candles in it since she was actively sick.

Despite being sick she had a good day.

This year, she and Liam have been attending Mathcounts with me and started alternating that with the 3-D Printing Club which meets at the same time each week. She likes dragons, reading (especially the Wings of Fire series at the moment--it's about dragons), Pokemon, playing the cello (started this school year), Minecraft, Stardew Valley, and attended her first drop-off school dance.

Partial Solar Eclipse 2023

October 16, 2023 5:22 pm

On Saturday we watched the solar eclipse, which was an annular eclipse to begin with, but also only partial from our vantage point in Livermore.

I made pancakes and the Spencers came over to hang out with us.

We had some cloud cover throughout the morning and we missed the peak, but we got some good views before and after. The thin, wispy clouds made it more interesting to look at it at least.