We took Pete and Sam to Chuck E. Cheese's Saturday night, to celebrate the completing of Pete's homework chart and Sam's potty chart. If you bring your completed chart, you get 10 free tokens.
One thing you need to be at peace with when you go to CEC is that at exactly one moment, at a time which is determined at random, you will have no idea where Pete and Sam are for approximately 3-5 minutes. Then they will materialize again and you can proceed with the celebration.
I thought we were entitled to some sort of prize for being the first Caucasians to go there in 2007, but I guess maybe there were some others there last week.
We redeemed our tickets for: 1 bug ring, 1 wand, 1 stickers, and 1 pack of Smarties.
We have a new $20 printer (Wal-Mart) that has a few unusual "features". Including a creepy voice that tells you more than you really need to know about the status of your print job. Yesterday Pete asked if he could print a picture he had created on the Mr. Potato Head game. I told him to just press the Print button.
Creepy computer voice: "Please load paper into the printer feeder" Peter: "How does it know my name?"
Here are some pictures of Pete and Sam enjoying some happy time walking together. This was a return trip home from a local Geocache that was close enough to the house that we decided to walk to the site. You can see from the attire that it was one of those 70 degree days we've had throughout January. Hooray global warming!
The item Pete is holding is the GPS receiver. He is generally our navigator when we go Geocaching.
I remember the old Raisin Bran commercials where they said "Two Scoops" of raisins in every box made for a good breakfast.
On a related note, I hopped in the shower last Sunday morning after a quick "Pete, keep an eye on your brother". I emerged 10 minutes later, with Sam nowhere to be found. When I located him, he had helped himself to some "breakfast", which was a bag of Scoops chips he found in the pantry.
Pete had fun Saturday with his cub scout pack at the annual Pinewood Derby race. The race was at his school. This is the third race of this year - we previously did the Rain Gutter Regatta and Space Derby.
Above is a picture of some of the cars in Pete's group. Pete's is #4, the blue one. It is actually a wedge shape, which is hard to see from this angle. Ours was one of the few cars to have a driver. This is because most people are obsessed with eliminating sources of drag, but our goal for our first time was more about having fun than trying to win first place. After cutting the wedge piece off of the original block, we gave that to Sam for his "car", and he decorated it and put a little driver on it. The green car shown is the one that finished first in the group. The gold one finished third. Pete finished fifth. (There were 13 cars in Pete's group.)
They did a lot of races, to make sure there were fair results. Pete's car raced six times, once in each lane against a variety of other cars. Despite this variability, he was remarkably consistent - finishing third in each of the six races. Below is a picture of the track. You can see Pete's name on the board, and his car ready to go in lane 6.
Here is Pete watching his race. You can also see the finish line. It was all computerized, so things went much more smoothly than the Space Derby. It still took about 2.5 hours to run all of the races.
Sam and mom came for a little while too. After a few races, Sam was ready to go to the gym next door to watch the basketball game.
This was a fun event for us. One thing we learned is not to spend too much time slaving over the car production. We spent a total of about about 2-3 hours on the car over about a week. The most important thing for next year is to make sure we have a good scale, and work on getting the weight exactly 5.0 ounces before going to the official weigh-in.
Sometimes it is difficult for Pete to do his homework in the afternoon, with Sam running around. Lately, we have had some success with giving Sam his own "homework" to do. So here is everyone working on their homework together.
Since Pete likes to watch the TV game show Deal or No Deal, we had thought about getting the home version for him as a Christmas gift. But if you think about it, playing the standard game of Deal or No Deal is even more pathetic than watching the show - primarily because you don't stand to win any of the money, which is where the show derives all of its drama. (If you don't believe me, go to this website and try playing the game more than 1 or 2 times to see how interesting it is.)
So we had an epiphany that we could create our own version of the game. We worked on it for a few weeks, and finally played with Pete on Saturday. It also helped Sam learn his numbers, because he would grab the envelopes after Pete selected them. It was great fun. We had no idea how much he would struggle with deciding whether to accept the deals.
In case you are wondering - Pete fared pretty well in the game. After opening 18 envelopes, he still had 3 of the top 4 prizes left on the board. But surprisingly he decided to take the next deal we offered, which was a game of "Hide and Seek". (Note, the remote controls in the picture are the "buttons" he used to indicate "deal" or "no deal"). I'm sure we will get to play again many more times in the future. Next time it will be Sam's turn to select the numbers. But they both get the prize.
We were all home for Martin Luther King Day, so we went to Friendly's and then to look for a geocache in Great Falls with Brian. It was a fun hike, except for some reason mom and dad left the backpack in the car, so by the end of the day dad was pretty tired.
Sam did manage to walk around long enough (in his Clifford sandals) to spot a turtle.
You need to be careful when you take Pete somewhere where there are woods nearby. It only takes him a few minutes to head off deep into the woods. One helpful strategy is to dress him in some bright colors. (As a counter-example, yesterday we did a woodsy geocache with Pete wearing a black shirt and jeans - not good).
So in the spirit of this advice, look for Pete in the picture below from our recent cub scout Campfire Carols excursion. Bear in mind, he was standing right next to me moments earlier when I started fiddling with the camera.
Grandma and Grandpa came to visit last weekend. These were our activities:
- Geocaching* - Piano Lesson* - Karate* - Dinosaur Playground* - Billiards - Breakfast at hotel - Swimming at hotel** - Open presents - Happy Feet movie - Bake blueberry muffins - Watch Eagles win playoff game against Giants 23-20 - Breakfast at IHOP
* These are activities we did on Saturday (since grandma and grandpa usually arrive around 5:00pm)
**Sam and Pete really like the pool game "Marco Polo". It is fun in hotel pools where you are the only people swimming. Also, we invented a version where you don't say anything, and me and Sam try to locate Pete by just listening for his breathing.
If you were betting on how many times grandma and grandpa would make a wrong turn while driving on this trip, the correct answer was 3.
Closing out the summary of our holiday ski trip, below are pictures from family time at the condo. (Since only 3 of the 14 people on the trip ventured down to the bottom of the slopes, there was plenty of family time).
Sam is great because he is always so excited to open his presents. Here he is opening a Lion King Smartridge for his V-Smile (with Pete in the background opening a big box of K'nex):
This was the best moment of the trip - Ashleigh reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the other children on Dec 24.
Here is Pete playing with his favorite new toy, Speed Stacks:
Here are Pete, Sam, and Sarah enjoying Uncle Paul's famous french toast at the kids table for Christmas breakfast:
We stopped at the Harrisonburg Children's Museum on the way to Snowshoe Mountain. Since we got there at 2:45, and they close at 3:00, it was a quick visit. But we made sure to stop for a full visit on the way home. This was a better museum than the Chesapeake Children's Musuem (which we describedearlierhere).
Here is Pete climbing on the rock wall. I'm not sure if he intended this, but from the right angle it almost looks like he is flying:
Sam sliding from the barn:
I couldn't convince Sam to let me paint his face ("everyone will laugh at me"), but of course Pete was game so I painted a scary face on Pete that Sam seemed to be excited about:
Now that Pete had his face paint, Sam was ready to give it a try. So here is Mr. Tiger getting ready to climb the wall:
Sam managed to have fun on our holiday ski trip, even though there were not too many activities for him to do at a small ski resort in the middle of nowhere.
Since there were 8-10 people sleeping in our 3-bedroom condo, we decided that it would be best for Sam to sleep in the closet of mom and dad's room. Here he is hanging out in his bed with Pete and Sarah:
Sam did not get to ski, even though he very much wanted to. He did get to go tubing with us at Silver Creek, which we called "tube skiing" so he would feel like he got to go skiing. Also, here he is "snownoarding" in the condo:
Here is Sarah reading with Sam:
We took him twice to the pool. The pool and the "Big Top" were the two activities that we knew would have some value for him to pass the time. Here he is in the pool:
His favorite activity in the ski lodge was to pretend to shoot the zombies to a bloody pulp in the "House of the Dead" video game. For some reason, he called it "House of God".
When we picked Sam up last Sunday from the Kid Zone at church, he was singing a song walking out to the car. He kept singing, fast, and quietly, "Have you ever ...". It almost sounded like "Have you ever heard the good news about Jesus" or something like that. That was the best we could figure.
The next day, we realized what he had been singing. It was "Haji was a punk just like any other boy", the opening line from "Oi to the World". Pete and I were wondering later if Sam had taught that song to all of the pre-schoolers at church. If so, we hoped that he skipped the part about "On the roof with the nunchucks Trevor broke a lot of bones, but Haji had a sword like that guy in Indiana Jones. Police sirens wailing, a bloody dying man, Haji was alone and abandoned his band."