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)

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.

The End of Elementary School for Heather

June 10, 2023 2:46 pm

Heather finished up elementary school this year which came with a bunch of end-of-year activities. Here's a smattering of them.

On April 21 she had her "Walk Through the American Revolution" play for which she was Benedict Arnold:

On May 5 was the Rancho Color Run, which included Corinne:

On May 30 Heather had her first violin concert:

And a video of part of the concert (sorry for the shakiness, I was standing in the back hand-holding the camera with a zoom lens):

June 2nd was the 5th grade recognition assembly:

And the last day of school was June 8:

That afternoon and evening we invited some of the girls' friends to go to Lost Worlds (family fun center) and have a little party to celebrate.

Heather's Birthday 2022

October 30, 2022 11:52 am

Heather's birthday adventure this year was Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild themed. A non-linear quest to find and restore a lost artifact to the Temple of Time. It was a blast.

The adventure began when she arrived home from school to receive a package and letter at the front step.

The letter was from Princess Zelda asking Heather to help her and Link find an ancient artifact that was lost during the Calamity. The artifact had been removed from the Temple of Time to protect it from Ganon, but the records of where it had been taken were destroyed. Purah was able to extract four images from the Sheikah Slate related to the artifact and Heather needed to travel to those locations and recover the memory related to that location. The artifact was protected by several measures ensuring that it could only be recovered when all the people of Hyrule were living in peace and cooperation. She included a map of Hyrule to help her find her way.

And, because it's dangerous to go alone, Zelda included a sword.

She then adventured around Hyrule fighting enemies, searching for clues, greeting friends, and have a grand old time. She met Hestu in Hyrule Field who asked her to find his last five missing Korok Seeds. She attempted the Zippy Zip Speed Test obstacle course, but needed to be a little faster. She traveled to Zora's Domain and got a free sample of Hasty Elixir which gave her enough zip to complete the obstacle course in time and win the bow and quiver. The jar of elixir is just water with food coloring, but the samples from the sake pitcher were blue Gatorade.

To support the adventure I threw together a simple website which had a timer on it. For the Zippy Zip Speed Test I ran the timer at normal speed and I added a check box that would make it run at 1/3 speed when she drank the Hasty Elixir.

The website also had a few sound effects on it so, for example, when she found a Korok I played the "Ya-ha-ha!" sound. When she obtained a key item I played the "Doo-doo-doo-doo!" sound.

Since this was a non-linear adventure Heather did a fair bit of wandering about exploring before getting down to business and searching for the memory locations. She had to find the Hateno Tech Lab, Mellifluous Falls in Zora's Domain, Death Mountain, and the Gate of Time.

At the Gate of Time entrance to the Lost Woods she learned that the artifact was hidden somewhere in the Lost Woods and the gate was locked with ancient Sheikah Technology. She would need a code to open it.

At the Hateno Tech Lab she recovered a memory indicating the the Sheikah marked the true path through the Lost Woods so that only the Blue Flame would reveal it. It included an encoded phrase indicating where a source of the Blue Flame was kept. Inside the Lab was a decoder ring, but only heat like Lava could reveal the information necessary to decode the location. She needed to heat the paper in Death Mountain (the volcano was located in the family room, but I didn't put the toaster oven in there for safety reasons). Once toasted, the paper revealed that the decoder ring needed to be aligned as 11 = H. With that Heather was able to learn that the Blue Flame (UV flashlight) was kept in a Rito's Roost.

At Mellifluous Falls in Zora's Domain she recovered a memory that the code to unlock the Gate of Time in the Lost Woods was hidden deep in Gerudo Desert using a Royal Zoran secret communication technique that allows them to pass messages using water. Upon finding the Hero's Symbol in the desert Heather needed to apply water and re-assemble the 4-digit code.

21, 17, 73 get condensed down to the 4-digit code to unlock the Gate of Time: 2173.

The final memory came from Death Mountain. The Goron Sages held the knowledge that the artifact was locked in a chest. The Sheikah hid the key somewhere in Kakariko Village, but only the Hero's Power of Magnesis could retrieve it. A scroll kept in the volcano itself held the location of the Magnesis power, but would only reveal its secret if taken to the Gerudo Ice House and frozen.

After letting the scroll chill for a while (in a cooler filled with ice) Heather learned that she would need to search the sandiest part of the Gerudo Desert (a.k.a the sandbox) to find Magnesis. With the power recovered, she could return to Kakariko Village and use her new power to lift the key out of the Sheikah Monument.

Along the way she found the five Koroks: a stone circle in Hyrule Field, a set of offering bowls in Akkala Highlands, a suspicious rock in Faron Woods, a rock in a tree near Hateno Tech Lab, and three balloons in Kakariko Village she needed to shoot after obtaining the bow and quiver from the Zippy Zip Speed Test. Upon returning those to Hestu she received his prize: a shield!

Now she was ready to dare enter the Lost Woods and retrieve the artifact. After entering the code to the Gate of Time she found herself in a spooky land of darkness and confusion. The Lost Woods were filled with a dense fog and lit only by eerie jack-o-lanterns floating in the sky. Obstacles abounded and a path of arrows on the floor would only lead you in circles--unless you had the Blue Flame which revealed the true path (written in UV-fluorescent marker). I took a picture later after the fog had cleared so you can see what it was like.

Heather successfully navigated the Lost Woods, while Corinne followed the false path and got stuck in a corner. She recovered the chest and we took it back to Zora's Domain to open. Inside she found the Ocarina of Time and needed to play the opening to "The Song of Time" to unlock the Temple of Time and return the ocarina to its altar. In reward she collected her presents that were kept under the altar.

With the artifact recovered and restored to the temple, and presents in hand, it was time to rest from the adventure and open gifts.

By then pizza was ready to pick up for dinner and after pizza, cake! Heather asked for a cheesecake cut into a square to be Minecrafty. Jess frosted it with whipped-cream frosting.

And then it was time to head off to "Trunk or Treat" at school. Which was crazy crowded, but the girls had fun.

Gymnastics Recital 2022

May 21, 2022 6:18 pm

Like Heather's class play, the girls' gymnastics class held their first recital since 2019 this weekend. Corinne was nervous about it, but had a great time. She was positively beaming when she got her medal. Heather is always very stoic during public performances, her play and this recital included. Pictures came out a lot better this time since I have the new camera. The gymnastics recital is always incredibly challenging for getting decent pictures. Full sun outside, but dim inside with lots of backlighting. We went and got frozen yogurt afterwards.