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.

Jess' Birthday 2023

September 23, 2023 2:49 pm

Jess' Birthday fell on a weekday this year which means waiting until school and work are done to celebrate.

But before she could do that she needed to find a few of her presents. She made short work of my riddles and we got to opening presents and then heading out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (which had incredibly slow service that evening). After dinner we came back home for the triple-layer caramel cheesecake I made (blondie crust, caramel cheesecake, with salted-caramel topping). I think I've just about got it perfected.

Aside from the wildfire smoke that has settled in during this week it seemed to be a pretty good day.

2023 Trip: Part 5 - Heading Home

2:35 pm

We had originally planned to stay another day, but we were all feeling like it was time to be home. And this way there are still things we haven't done for our next visit.

So we packed up and headed out on the 13th. We stopped at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson on our way out.

I had no idea saguaro cacti grew so tall! I had expected something like 10-feet tall, not 20-feet tall.

It was hot at the air and space museum. We knew it would be, but thought we could see a few things fairly quickly and mostly stay inside out of the sun before it got too hot. But the 30-minute loop we did outside just about did in Jess and the girls.

Lots of things to see there though when it's not too hot to stand and read the signage.

After the air and space museum we got lunch at Brushfire BBQ, which was pretty good. After lunch we headed onto something less conventional--the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures (on the other side of Tucson).

I'm not sure how "Time Machine" makes its way into their name, but it's a building full of miniature scenes which was fun to look at it. And it was air-conditioned! It included a "Fairy Hunt" for the girls to complete. That is, throughout the scenes were something like 12 fairies they needed to find to get a little prize at the end. We found them all and they got to pick out a sticker and eraser or something.

One large room was all scenes related to fantasy and holidays (mainly Halloween and Christmas) which was probably the most fun part.

But the other areas with more realistic to life scenes were cool too. They were more interesting from the view of noticing how many details are included such that a photograph can fool you as to what you're looking at. Like the bookstore here, which is about 10 inches tall:

And they had these pencil tips that had been carved like this in what must have been an incredibly painstaking process:

And I also liked this old European street scene:

After those stops we drove for 4 hours and stayed the night in Blythe, CA. Then up the next day to thread the needle across Los Angeles between morning gridlock and afternoon gridlock. And we had an almost perfect run. We got slowed down by an accident for just a few minutes on the north side of LA. Once safely through LA we had dinner at Wendy's and then up I-5 and home.