Back to School

We started back to school yesterday and so I of course took their pictures and asked them some questions. See how they’ve changed from last year!

Adrian, age 8 years 2 months, 3rd grade
Back to School
Favorite food: Pasta with Parmesan
Favorite movie: The BFG
Favorite book: I don’t know
Favorite song: I don’t know that either
Favorite subject: Experiments
Favorite thing to do: Play video games
Favorite color: Yellow
Wants to be when he grows up: Marine Biologist
Height: 4’1″
Weight: 57 lbs

Fritz, age 10 years 1 month, 5th grade
Back to School
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite movie: The BFG
Favorite book: Artemis Fowl
Favorite song: Heathens by Twenty One Pilots
Favorite subject: Latin
Favorite thing to do: Video games
Favorite color: Dark Blue
Wants to be when he grows up: Cancer Researcher
Height: 4’6″
Weight: 81 1/2 lbs

Cameron, age 14 years 10 months, 9th grade
Back to School
Favorite food: Food
Favorite movie: I don’t know
Favorite book: Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
Favorite song: I don’t know
Favorite subject: The one that doesn’t exist
Favorite thing to do: Sleeping
Favorite color: Pink
Wants to be when he grows up: I have no idea
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 140 lbs

Ani, age 16 years 6 months, 12th grade
Back to School
Favorite food: Popcorn
Favorite movie: Rise of the Guardians
Favorite book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Favorite song: On Purpose by Sabrina Carpenter
Favorite subject: Psychology
Favorite thing to do: Taekwondo
Favorite color: Orange or green
Wants to be when he grows up: Own a taekwondo place
Height: 5’3 3/4″
Weight: 110 lbs

Bonus: Heather, age 38 years 4 months, teacher
Favorite food: Salad
Favorite book: Harry Potter series
Favorite movie: Miracle on 34th Street (original version)
Favorite TV show: Psych
Favorite song: Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison
Favorite subject: History
Favorite color: Purple and sometimes green

Not Back to School Day 2016

Tomorrow we’ll hit the books, but today, while everyone else went back to school, we celebrated Not Back to School Day with a trip to the San Antonio Aquarium.

Not Back to School Day 2016
The first hallway of the aquarium includes displays of dinosaurs and one of those interactive games projected on the floor.

Not Back to School Day 2016
Most of the aquarium exhibits are interactive, but a few are not. The shark egg was fascinating because the little tiny shark inside was wiggling all over the place.

Not Back to School Day 2016
This critter, and axolotl, was a bit terrifying.

Not Back to School Day 2016
I think a megaladon could’ve eaten the boys in one gulp.

Not Back to School Day 2016
We petted and fed the stingrays.

Not Back to School Day 2016
This teeny tiny baby stingray was adorable and so incredibly soft.

Not Back to School Day 2016
We also fed the koi.

Not Back to School Day 2016
And the sharks.

Not Back to School Day 2016
The big birds were beautiful. I’ve never seen one as pretty as the red one. The green one was doing its best to unlock the door and escape from the cage.

Not Back to School Day 2016
I was surprised at how the iguanas feel. Their skin isn’t at all how I imagined it.

Not Back to School Day 2016
Fritz likes to get up close and personal with the animals. I’m glad there was a thick sheet of glass between him and the Burmese Python (and that he’s not Harry Potter).

Not Back to School Day 2016
Cameron had his fortune told by a creepy pirate. Not quite Zoltar, but still pretty cool.

Not Back to School Day 2016
There was a whole conversation about who would be the second female mermaid. Littlest brothers will do anything you tell them.

Not Back to School Day 2016
We fed the caiman. One wasn’t interested at all, one was suspicious of the food hanging in front of him, and the other gobbled it right up.

Not Back to School Day 2016
We all got to pet a caiman.

Not Back to School Day 2016
The lorikeets decided Fritz and I needed to be groomed. At one point I had five of them pecking away at my hair and ears.

Not Back to School Day 2016
The parakeets were awesome. So many of them looked like the ones we used to have, Mickey and Goofy

Not Back to School Day 2016

Not Back to School Day 2016

Not Back to School Day 2016
The parakeets swarmed all over us to get the birdseed we got to feed them.

Not Back to School Day 2016
Adrian hung out with the tortoise roaming around the gift shop.

Not Back to School Day 2016
The little guys played in the I-Guana Jump area. They had a great time.

Not Back to School Day 2016
After we left the aquarium we went to Golden Corral for lunch. Cameron ate a ton (amazing what a tall, active teenage boy can eat at one time!) and the boys got cotton candy, so it was a wonderful meal all around.


Check out previous years’ Not Back to School Days: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015. (I missed blogging about Not Back to School Day in 2011 and they went to public school in 2013.)

So this happened…

So this happened...

I tested for my black recommended belt on Thursday.

So this happened...

I passed!

So this happened...

For the first several months we took taekwondo, I didn’t believe I’d ever make it this far.

So this happened...

Turning around and seeing myself with a black belt around my waist was pretty awesome.

So this happened...

This makes 5 of the 6 of us (Adrian is a green belt now on the “some day I’ll get my black belt” track – 2 or 3 years to go for him).

So this happened...

First degree testing is in December… less than 4 months away!

So this happened...

A Year of Science Bags

I learned years ago that unless I put science supplies together in weekly bags, I am not likely to do all the experiments planned. Last year, I planned to do three weeks at a time, but then I was getting ready to have surgery and not knowing how recovery would go, I went ahead and assembled the bags for the rest of the school year. It helped so much having things ready and waiting that this year I decided to put them together now so everything is ready before the school year even starts.

A Year of Science Bags

There is one bag for each week of school/chapter in REAL Science Odyssey Biology 2. That means each bag holds supplies for 2-3 experiments.

A Year of Science Bags

Each bag has a card listing what additional supplies we need for the experiments. Sometimes those supplies are on the shelf (too big to fit in the bags), sometimes they are things in the kitchen, and sometimes they are things we use day to day.

A Year of Science Bags

The bags fit nicely in the bin. Each week, we can just grab the bag from the front and get to work. Super easy.

A Year of Science Bags

Not everything I ordered has arrived at this point (should be here Wednesday), so I have a “cheat sheet” telling me what I need to add to the bags. It also lists what I need to buy (perishables), grow (radish plants), or find (dead insects) for certain weeks. I’ll probably transfer that list into my Bullet Journal so it’s always handy throughout the year. It feels nice to be all ready for the whole science year like this.

It’s Almost School Time

The first day of school is Tuesday so I’ve been busy getting ready this week. Almost everything was ready by days after we finished the last school year so it’s just been last minute stuff.

Saturday we went shopping for school supplies, art supplies, and science experiment needs. I also placed an order for science supplies from Amazon and Home Science Tools. The Amazon order arrived today. The Home Science Tools order will be here Wednesday.
It's Almost School Time

I’ve adjusted a few lesson plans and even changed the school year slightly. Christmas break for the local school district is two weeks going from a Wednesday to a Tuesday. I decided to give my kids three full weeks off instead. I added a couple things (like a typing program) and changed Adrian’s reading to regular books since Magic Treehouse, which I had planned to have him read, is beneath his reading level now. Mostly, the plans stayed as I wrote them a few months ago.

The last couple days I’ve been working on putting together science experiment bags. Now all that is left is to finish putting stuff on the shelves and in drawers, dole out new pencils and scissors, and wait for Tuesday. It’s going to be a great year!

We love Pokemon Go

We’ve been playing Pokemon Go since a few days after it came out. We have so much fun PokeHunting all together. Sometimes we stay in the comfort of our van’s air conditioning (we do live in Texas after all), but sometimes we brave the heat and walk (gotta hatch those eggs).

Of course when we first started I apparently made a terrible mistake. I made it to level 5, went to a gym, and chose Team Instinct. I had apparently not gotten the memo that our family would all be Team Mystic. After some minor intense pressure from two of the kids in particular, I gave up my progress all the way to level 6 and started over completely. This time I went blue and one of my children who shall remain nameless actually hugged me and told me he loved me again. I’m up to level 15 now, and that child still loves me, so it’s all good.

On Fritz’s 10th birthday Cameron got his first lure module when he hit whatever level it is when you get one of those. It was like 10:30 at night, but the six of us loaded up in the van and headed to the church (our church, conveniently enough, is a PokeStop). On the way we picked up a friend and his teenage daughter. They had been out PokeHunting, but her phone died so they were walking home. We were prepared with charging cables and external batteries so they jumped in the van with us. We got to church and Cameron set off the lure.

Within minutes 30 people had showed up on foot and in cars. When our friend’s daughter learned it was Fritz’s birthday, she started singing Happy Birthday and all those random people joined in. We met a guy, a vet who fought over in the sand, named Adrian. That’s the first Adrian our Adrian had ever met. Adrian was a really nice fascinating guy. We still get happy when we see his username with a Pokemon defending a gym. Once the lure ended, we went next door to another church that is a gym. We worked together, along with Adrian, to take over and level up the gym. We never would’ve met Adrian if it wasn’t for Pokemon Go. We got home after midnight. Fritz said it was the best birthday ever, largely because of those memories we made late that night.

Ani and Cameron and a friend of theirs sat at the gym for a long time one night going back and forth with two girls, a set of twins, who are on Team Valor. In between the fighting, they chatted. They exchanged Instagrams and Snap Chats. Saturday Jamie and Ani went to Sonic and one of those twins brought their milkshakes out to them. That was fun because a friendship had already been made thanks to Pokemon Go.

The other evening we noticed the gym was easily beatable so we all headed over to battle. We took it over and then spent some time leveling it up to level 5 (Adrian doesn’t actually play since we only have 5 devices it works on, but he’s always with us when the rest of us are playing and sometimes we let him catch Pokemon on our phones). And then we all added a Pokemon. Jamie, Ani, Cameron, Fritz, and I each had a Pokemon defending that gym for a few hours. It was really cool having a family gym for a bit.

We were tipped off that the library is an especially fun place to play. There are 6 PokeStops and two gyms. Three of the Stops are right together and at least one pretty much always has a lure going. You can walk in a circle and hit all six Stops one after another and get some egg hatching time in at the same time. We’ve gone there several times (including just Jamie and me on a date). It’s so fun to watch the groups of people playing together. Friends, grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children. There’s a playground by the grouping of three Stops. Little children (including Adrian when we go there all together) run around playing happily together while their siblings and parents play Pokemon Go.

It’s not uncommon to see a child teaching their parent or grandparent how to play the game. Adrian is one of those children. He has been watching Pokemon for years and has an encyclopedia of knowledge in his brain. He can identify Pokemon by their outlines, he knows the evolutions of them all, and he can tell us which to use in battle since he knows what type each is and what fights what best. It’s so neat to see the adults really listening to what the children have to say as the child becomes the teacher.

Pokemon Go is a silly game. On the surface, it’s nothing more than a distraction. But from what I’ve seen, it’s also seriously awesome. I’ve heard of people losing weight from walking around hatching eggs. I’ve heard of parents connecting with teens in ways they were unable to before. I’ve heard of so many people making friends with people they’d never have met otherwise. There’s a camaraderie to playing a game so many others are.

Of course I’ve also heard of the dire warnings about how dangerous Pokemon Go could be. Well, life in general can be dangerous (and the number of people using the game for nefarious purposes is minuscule compared to the number playing). What it comes down to is if a silly game is giving families – mine included – and even random strangers a reason to spend time together talking and laughing, I’m in.

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

A couple weeks ago the little guys had a combined birthday party at taekwondo. They decided they wanted it to be Minecraft themed.

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

The cakes were a lot of work. We started on Thursday evening by making marshmallow fondant. We had never used any sort of fondant before so it was a bit of an adventure. It was pretty amazing how the melted marshmallow combined with the confectioner’s sugar and Crisco to make an amazing, rollable, cuttable dough.

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

We spent all day Friday making cakes. Sixteen 8×8 one-inch tall square ones to be exact. We colored them various shades of green, brown, red, and gray. Eventually we were ready to put them together. Considering we didn’t start until something like 8pm, it should be no surprise that the two cakes weren’t done until 1:30am. The cakes were so huge (about 17 pounds each) that we couldn’t fit both of them in the refrigerator at the same time. Cameron suggested calling a friend to use their refrigerator, but I didn’t think any of my friends would be too thrilled with a call asking for refrigerator space after 11 at night. Jamie fashioned an ice box out of a plastic storage container, ice, and a blanket. Thankfully that worked very well and both cakes stayed just how they were assembled until they were cut and eaten the next day.

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

We had three tables at the party. The first table was the majority of the food. The back row is Yellow Wool (foil wrapped chocolates), Bread (Lay’s potato chips), Fish (Swedish fish), Slime Balls (grapes), and Coal (blueberries). The front row is Carrots (Cheetos), Golden Apples (grapes coated in yellow Jell-O powder), Sticks (pretzel sticks), Red Apples (grapes coated in red Jell-O powder), Snowballs (mini marshmallows), and Redstone (strawberries).

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

The third table held Creeper Juice (green dyed Sprite) and Lava (red Jell-O) and Water (blue Jell-O). We made the Jell-O in little cups with spoons stuck in them.

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

The middle table held the amazing (and delicious) cakes. The grass block was Adrian’s and the redstone block was Fritz’s.

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

Our regular taekwondo instructor was out of town that weekend so Ani ran the party. It was the first party she’d ever run by herself, but it went great. The kids (and a few adults) had tons of fun. The birthday kid at taekwondo parties gets to wear a black belt for the day. Fritz and Adrian got to wear extra special belts. Fritz wore Cameron’s and Adrian wore Ani’s.

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

The boys, with Ani and Cameron’s help, got to make the first cut of their cakes with swords. We had brought a knife to cut for serving, but it turned out the swords worked better for all the cutting.

Minecraft Taekwondo Party

The inside of the cakes was totally awesome. The grass block one was just full layers while the redstone block one was four triangles per layer (two shades of gray and two shades of red).

The boys were so very happy with their party so we’ll call it a definite success!