Wednesday, December 31, 2014

London Trip - Day 4

On Wednesday, Mom and Dad took a morning excursion to the British Museum. Sam stayed home with Jack.

The tube and bus let them off within a short walk to the museum.

On the return trip, they stopped at the Edgeware station and grabbed some Domino's Pizza to bring back for Sam and Jack. The walk from Domino's went through some international markets and diverse neighborhoods.

After lunch, everyone headed back out on the tube from Baker Street to the National Gallery.

Preparing for tomorrow's parade route, thry took a stroll through Trafalgar Square and stopped at the Admiralty Arch. They did not quite make it down to Buckingham Palace. This will be the goal for the next trip.

They met Jack and Susan for dinner at a local pub called the Duke of York. It was a fun evening enjoyed by all. They split up on the walk home - Mom going off with Susan toward Abbey Road and Dad going with Sam and Jack.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

London Trip - Day 3

Tuesday of the London trip was the farthest the group would venture out of town.

They caught the train to Watford Junction and then the shuttle bus to Harry Potter Studios. After grabbing a snack at the cafe, they did the Harry Potter tour. Sam picked up a Voldemort wand in the gift shop, and a glass for Pete.

Then it was time to zip off to Cadogan Hall. Unfortunately, the group missed the final bus by a few seconds. They caught the next bus to Cadogan Hall, ran up the 62 steps to the mezzanine, and arrived just as Broad Run was playing their second song. The exhausted Broad Run students were struggling to stay awake in the balcony as they watched the subsequent three schools perform.

Having spotted Pete sitting in the rafters at Cadogan Hall, Mom and Dad had achieved confirmation that Pete, in fact, had arrived in London.

Monday, December 29, 2014

London Trip - Day 2

After landing at Heathrow airport, and making it through customs, they met their driver and headed off to the flat at 22 St. John's Wood Court St. NW8 8QT.

Upon arrival, they discovered that Jack and Susan both had the flu. So everyone gathered their things and headed back out to safety.

After a brisk walk to the Baker St. tube station, they grabbed their Oyster transit cards for the week. Next, after a bit of scrambling, they met the Anderson Tours van to Windsor Castle. Sam grabbed a quick nap on the short van ride to Windsor. They took the audio tour at Windsor Castle. Sam was rather frigid, so they got some hot chocolate at McDonalds. Unfortunately the hot chocolate was too hot to drink, and it was soon time to walk back to the van.

After considering several local options, they grabbed a late lunch at a crowded Pizza Hut. Then they rode atop a double-decker bus for a bit.

They took the tube back to the St. John's station, grabbed some money at Barclay's bank, and then took the long walk home past the cricket stadium.

It had been a long 2 days, so everyone was quite ready for bed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

London Trip - Day 1

Pete went to London over New Year's break in December 2014 to play in the London New Year's Day Parade with his marching band from Broad Run High School. He stayed in the hotel with his fellow bandmates.

Mom, Dad, and Sam decided to make the trip on their own to watch the parade. They stayed in a flat with Pete's friend Jack and his parents.

The first day of the trip (Sunday), Pete got dropped off at school and then the rest of the crew got a ride to the airport from Tom. They met up with Pete at the airport to give him some British Pounds to spend on the trip. After grabbing some pizza, it was time to board the flight.

Sam enjoyed the British Airways flight, which included unlimited video games and movies on a personal screen. Dad watched "Boyhood", mom watched "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and Sam watched "Home Alone and The Simpsons Movie".

Everyone also tried to grab a little sleep to prepare for the long week ahead.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Escape the Room with a Zombie

The family tried something very new and different on the day after Christmas, with Brian and Patti. It was called “Trapped in a Room with a Zombie”.

Yes, they were locked in a room with a zombie and had to solve a series of puzzles to figure out how to escape – all the while avoiding being touched by the zombie.

Sam quickly realized that he was not too thrilled with this situation. He left the room for a while, then came back in and kept at a safe distance.

The group solved almost all of the puzzles. The last thing was a mechanical crane device that they could not quite get to work to extricate a critical final piece of the puzzle. It was a good effort.

They certainly with a lot of “good” memories from the event.

A Fudd’s Christmas

In case you were wondering how crowded it is at Fuddruckers on Christmas Day, the answer is “not very”.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

This year’s Christmas presents were an eclectic mix.

Sam really liked his new pillow. He would realize even more how much he liked it when it would later get left in Virginia Beach for a few long weeks in July and August.

The giant slinky was also a big hit.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Beards

Everyone enjoyed a bountiful Christmas dinner with Nana and Poppy. This was a bit of a “last dinner”, as soon they would be moving to their new house in Myrtle Beach, not to be seen much after that.

If you look closely you can see that Sam and Poppy are both sporting their Christmas beards.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Meadowlark Gardens

It was a chilly but fun night at the Meadowlark Gardens light show. Sam put on his warmest “jacket” (aka sweatshirt) and everyone headed out.

The experience was a unique and enjoyable one. Mom also got a chance to take some pictures with her new Samsung Galaxy s4 phone.

Dad and Pete snagged a few Munzees in the parking lot on the way back to the car.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Philly Pops

Grandma and Grandpa invited everyone to come up for the “Philly Pops” Christmas concert. Unfortunately, Grandma fell and broke her hip so she would not be able to go to the concert. On Friday evening, they got to the hospital in time to stop by for visiting hours. They gave Grandma a book for Hanukkah, to help her pass the time in the hospital. And some bookmarks that they cut from a Cocoa Pebbles box, which she would forget where she got them from and mail them back as gifts for the boys about a year later.

Then on Saturday they were off to the concert. It was fun, although they were very close to the stage so it was hard to see some of the instruments in the back (like the trumpets).

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Pete took some liberties with the Christmas decorations this year. His task was to put HO HO HO and a candy cane on the sliding glass door in the kitchen. Somehow this ended up as OH OH JO. Dad notified Aunt Jo of this. She didn’t respond, so presumably she must have been pretty upset about it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Here is Sam’s "Erosion, Deposition, and Weathering" poster.

Sam learned something working on this project. (No, it was not about erosion, deposition, or weathering.) Most of the people in his class Googled “erosion, deposition, and weathering” and selected the first pictures in the results. Sam realized that he could get some more unique pictures by selecting some lower down in the search results. I guess you’re never too old to learn something new.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

LINK Food Bank

It had been a few years since Pete and Dad had volunteered at the LINK food bank. So Dad signed them up for a Saturday shift at Christ the Redeemer Church in Sterling.

Although Pete prefers to stock the shelves, the biggest need this time was for people to walk around and help the needy with their “shopping” selections.

It was nice to see the results of the process, all the way from Sam's “Scouting For Food” with his Cub Scout Pack, up to seeing the people receiving the food and helping them load it into their car.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Perfect Sandwich

Sam goes through brief periods where he will eat sandwiches. Some of these phases will last for a few weeks, and some for only a few hours.

One such period occurred in December 2014.

Above, Sam can be seen admiring the “perfect” toasted turkey and cheese sandwich.

A few months later he had the brief “ham sandwich” period of April 2015.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


Sam had several birthday celebrations this year. First Grandma and Grandpa came to visit. Cake was enjoyed by all.

The next week was the sleepover party with Jackson, Jaylan, EthanW, and William. Cookie cake was enjoyed by all.

And then the gun fighting.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sam Spelling Bee Victory

Congratulations to Sam for winning the Dominion Trail spelling bee. Sam and Sarah Jakubowski were clearly the two best spellers. They were the last two remaining after a few rounds, and went a bunch of rounds with just the two of them. Mr. Joseph was the speller, and he did a great job. Unfortunately he did not pronounce the word correctly that Sarah went out on (ultimatum). Otherwise, they both might still be up there spelling. Sam spelled every word correctly that he was given. He will represent his school at the County Bee at Stone Bridge in March. The winner of that will go to the National Spelling Bee (all the way in Washington DC).

Here are the words that Sam spelled correctly:
  1. gray
  2. ladybug
  3. judge
  4. chickens
  5. hubcap
  6. dandelion
  7. emporium
  8. neigh
  9. gainsay
  10. celebrate
  11. amulet
  12. novelist
  13. vehicular
  14. curator
  15. explosive
  16. sirloin
  17. stalwart (winning word)

Here is the video of Sam and Sarah going many rounds against each other (thanks miss Debbie!)

These were the top finishers:
  1. Sam
  2. Sarah
  3. Matthew
  4. Ipsita
  5. Dheeman
  6. Alex
  7. Gabriel
  8. Joshua
  9. Shril
Also, in this video you can see Sam and Sarah being recognized at 3:45 for the Spelling Bee plaque:

Sunday, November 02, 2014

More Band Competitions

Pete went to a few more band competitions in the fall season - including Virginia Beach and South Lakes.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


Pete went out with a few of his friends for Homecoming:

Chloe, Alexandra, Chandler, Olivia, and Ryan.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Sam finally got the costume for Halloween this year that he had been trying to get for the last few years. He is Slenderman:

Sam went trick-or-treating this year with William, Moksh, and Evan.

Band Halloween Parade

Pete's band marched in the same Homecoming Parade as Dad and hid Cub Scout Pack. This year it was on Halloween, which made for some fun costumes.

If you look carefully, you can see Pete in his nerd costume near the middle of this photo:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

JMU Competition

Pete's band did a great job winning second place at the JMU competition in October:

Also pictured above are Chandler, Jonah, Dennis, David, Drew, Alex, Katie, Jeremy, and Matt.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Loudoun Valley High School Competition

Pete's band played at a local competition at Loudoun Valley High School. Mom, Dad, Sam, Nana, and Poppy went over to the school to see the performance.

Pete is third behind Chandler in the row on the left:

Here, Pete is on the left side of the picture:

Pete and Olivia had some time after their performance to watch some of the other bands:

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Pete Brass Group

Above is Pete pictured with his fellow brass members in the band, in front of Broad Run. Pete is in the lower right.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Dominion Trail First Day

Pete joined the Broad Run band really early to play for Dominion Trail students on their first day of school. Pete was a little disappointed that Sam quickly scampered by, as did most of his fellow classmates. But it was a nice gesture nonetheless.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Broad Run Band Camp

Pete finished off the summer of 2014 at Broad Run Band Camp. There were some long hot days but he had a good time and made some new friends. He was off to a good start for his Freshman year of high school.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Raingutter Regatta

Sam raced in his last Raingutter Regatta in August.

First race against Dominik:

Second race, with Mom and Dad looking on:

Waiting for others to race:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wild Turtle

One of the funnier moments from camp this past week was the "Wild Turtle" incident.  Which oddly did not involve a turtle.

Sam noticed that one of the Scouts from our group looked like the LCS player known as Wild Turtle:

Of course, Dad had to get a picture of him to show Pete.  So Dad pretended to take a picture of Sam and snapped a picture of the rare Wild Turtle lookalike in the wild: