Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve 2015

On the last day of 2015, Sam and Mom went to breakfast at IHOP with Nana and Poppy. Mom dropped them off later in the day at the airport for their trip to Chicago. In the evening, Mom and Dad went to a party down the street

Pete went to a party at a friend’s house, and Sam enjoyed a quiet celebration at home with his Skype friends around the world. He did run over to the TV just before midnight to see the final countdown on ABC's "Rockin' New Year's Eve Featuring the Re-animated Corpse of Dick Clark and Also Ryan Seacrest".

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

More Vacation Days

Mom went hiking with Natalie, so Pete did some babysitting for Justin and Alex while Dad and Sam enjoyed a quiet day at home. After dinner, the boys caught up on 3 of the 6 back episodes of “Last Man on Earth” on the DVR.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


This evening the group had a nice dinner with Nana and Poppy at Clyde’s. Sam enjoyed his adult burger and brownie sundae. And Pete had the steak and brownie sundae. Dad saw an old friend Melanie that he used to work with. 

On the way home, they drove by 8 of the 10 prize winning houses in the Broadlands to see the holiday decorations. A few of the homeowners had apparently already disabled their decorations, since it was 4 days after Christmas. But there were still a few decent ones to see.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Gifts Round 2

Nana and Poppy came over today for the second round of opening presents. Pete got a funny shirt and pedal for his keyboard. Sam got League of Legends gift cards. Dad got a new camping pad. Mom got a white blouse. Shadow did not get to open her present, since she was still in Virginia Beach and did not make the trip.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Jump Start

Pete went out this evening with Alexandra while Dad played in his hockey scrimmage in Reston (2 goals!). Dad got a text message around 11:30pm that he needed some help at McDonald’s with re-starting a car. Dad went over and helped jump start Alexandra’s car (which is rather similar to Mom’s). 

Sam is also continuing to enjoy his new calligraphy kit.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

After Christmas

Dad and Sam spent about 90 minutes getting the Gamecube controller to with with his new Steam game on the PC. They did finally get it working (yay!). Then Dad played some Mario 3D World with Pete on the new Wii U. In the evening, everyone met Brian and Patti at The Greene Turtle to watch the big Eagles/Redskins game, which determined the winner of the NFC East. Sadly it was the Redskins. Stuart (Sam’s Scoutmaster) was at the restaurant also and stopped by to say hello.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

The boys had a great Christmas and seemed to really like their first batch of gifts (Nana and Poppy still to arrive in a few days). Here is what they got:


  • Wii U
  • Super Smash Bros. Wii
  • Wii U Gamecube adapter
  • Color printer for the playroom


  • Whip
  • Calligraphy kit
  • Devastator gaming keyboard/mouse
  • $20 Steam card
  • Striped long-sleeve shirt
  • Headphones for PC
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 14
  • "Thing Explainer" by Randall Munroe
  • Ukulele song book
  • $40 Amex gift card (from Uncle Steve)


  • Sustain pedal for keyboard
  • Hoodie
  • Plaid shirt
  • 2 Wimpy Kid books
  • Tea strainer
  • Laptop sleeve
  • AP History study guide
  • Sweatpants (exchanged from Grandma)
  • Ukulele song book
  • $40 Amex gift card (from Uncle Steve)

They also enjoyed some pancakes after opening their presents:

Mom, Dad, and Sam went in the afternoon to see the movie “Joy” with Brian and Patti. Then they picked up Pete for dinner at Fuddruckers (2nd annual).

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Not Possible

Pictured is Sam’s recent math assignment. Note that in the case where he is asked to take a square root of a negative number, he is supposed to answer “not possible”. He would prefer to give the correct answer, using i, but that would not be accepted. In question #8, if you look carefully you may see that Sam managed to sneak the correct answer in there along with the required answer.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bedtime Routine

Pictured is Sam’s bed, showing all of the elements of his bedtime routine, which is as follows:
  • Plug phone into charger
  • Flip red head pillow
  • Place retainer and mask on pillow
  • Place 2 foot pillows
  • Brush teeth
  • Throw clothes in hamper
  • [Optional] Put on pajamas
  • Climb into bed
  • Toss on white sheet
  • Toss on fuzzy blanket
  • Toss on blue blanket
  • Read 2 items from "1001 Things" Science book
  • Turn on radio
  • 2-pat (Sam and Climby)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Philly Holiday Vacation - Day 3

The group checked out from Camelback at 9am and drove down to meet grandma and grandpa at CafĂ© Riviera. The special guest was Sue Hicks. 

After lunch, they stopped for an hour at the Bucks County Visitors Center to see the Christmas Tree display. Grandpa also introduced Dad to some of his friends in Senator Tomlinson’s office. After a few candy canes, they piled back in the car for the long ride home.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Philly Holiday Vacation - Day 2

Monday was day 2 of the Philly mini-vacation. The family drove up to Camelback, with a stop at Wendy’s/Arby’s for lunch. Once they found the hotel, they checked in to the very nice room and then went to the water park for a few hours. 

They did the “Venus SlydeTrap” as a group, as well as the “Storm Chaser”, “Himalayan” (head first), and “Constrictor”. Pete and Dad also did the “Mountain Mayhem” and a few others. Everyone did the “Lost River” for a while. Pete and Sam did the Flow Rider. Sam and Mom went off for an hour to do the indoor/outdoor “Croc-O-Nile Crossing”, “Ally-Oop Lagoon”, “Croc-O-Nile Crossing”, and lazy river again. 

Pete wasn’t feeling well so he went back to the room. They were showing a marathon of the Simpsons Christmas episodes on FX throughout the evening. Dinner was a combination of leftover Domino’s Pizza from the lock-in and some items from the Hungry Camel. Pete got the “Boy Cupcake” and Sam some sort of brownie thing from the gift shop.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Philly Holiday Vacation - Day 1

Everyone piled into the car by 10am for the drive up to Philadelphia. Lunch worked out nicely at the Friendly’s in Newark, as they finished their ice cream just before the table for 20 next to them was ordering. They greeted grandma and grandpa in the early afternoon. Since Grandma always calls Dad "Michael Michael Motorcycle", they tried greeting her with "Sandy Sandy Fine and Dandy", "Sandy Sandy Summer Shandy", 
and "Sandy Sandy Flask o' Brandy", although after all that work she didn't seem to really hear any of it.

Pete helped grandma get a bunch of junk out of the trunk of her car. Dad walked down to the pickleball courts with Sam, grandpa, and grandma, but they couldn’t play any pickleball since grandpa forgot the key and it was getting dark. Grandma also forgot to get the “brisket” she was going to cook for dinner, so they went to Longhorn over by Neshaminy Mall. After dinner, Dad and Pete helped grandpa set up his Xfinity wi-fi and get his scanner working. Pete and Sam slept downstairs, but due to the mold issue Pete was not feeling very well in the morning.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chess Club

Congratulations to Sam on winning a medal for third place in the Chess Club tournament at Farmwell. He has enjoyed staying after school on Thursdays to play chess with Garrett, Shril, and some of his other friends. Dad seems a bit skeptical about how often Sam claims to beat his friends with "Scholar's Mate", however.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Video Game Lock-in

Sam had a lot of fun at the Troop 761 lock-in. Dad dropped him off at 7:30pm, along with the CRT, Wii, cables, controllers, sleeping bag, and pillow. Dad returned at 1:00am and stayed for the remainder of the event until 7:30am as a chaperone. Sam played a lot of Super Smash Bros. There were also Xbox consoles, a Minecraft server, and several other gaming stations. There were even extra TVs and games that did not get used. 

Some of the boys slept at the event, but Sam stayed up the entire night. When he got home, Sam actually stayed up all the way the next day until 5:00pm, at which time he crashed pretty hard until the following morning.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dad Swoops In

Pete is at the age where Dad is an annoying drag most of the time. Or at least it may seem that way to the outside observer. However, even Pete would probably admit that sometimes Dad can be helpful. Like yesterday. Pete had spent quite a lot of time on the gift exchange for Choir. He went to the mall, carefully selected three items that were just right for his selected person, found the perfect box, and wrapped it carefully. The only problem is that he headed out the door for school without the gift. And by another stroke of bad luck, Dad was on the phone at that moment with the auto shop. Somehow, Dad managed to swoop downstairs and stop Pete on his way out the door to remind him to grab the gift. Pete probably did not appreciate the value of this at that moment, but let’s imagine the feeling he would have at school later that day, when he realized that he didn’t have the gift (and Dad didn’t have a car to bring it to him either). 

Perhaps occasionally Dad can be good to have around.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Upcoming Events

Sam has a pretty good block of events coming up, starting tomorrow:
  • Spelling Bee finals
  • Pizza party in math class
  • Chess Club
  • Go home with Garrett to play games
  • Pajama Day
  • Boy Scouts video lock-in
  • Trip to Philly / Camelback
  • 2-week Winter break from school
  • Christmas

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Sam noticed that we finally have some Christmas presents under the tree. He found one for him that looked like a book. He thinks it is the paper airplanes book that he got a few years ago. Dad assured Sam that he would not give him the same book again, but Sam does not seem to believe him.

Monday, December 14, 2015

RotoClipper and Ringtone

Dad texted Pete that he needed to come upstairs right away. This was to watch the wonderful infomercial for RotoClipper. Pete returned the favor later by sharing with Dad a pretty amazing song, created by putting “All I Want for Christmas is You” through a MIDI converter, and then back through an mp3 converter. Dad had finally found his new holiday ringtone!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Local Light Displays

Sam joined Mom and Dad for a driving tour of the best-decorated holiday lights in Ashburn. They saw the top 3 single family, top 3 townhouses, 8 honorable mention houses, and about a dozen named streets. Surprisingly, this took an hour and a half to complete. They finished the tour by driving up the winning best-decorated street in Ashburn Village, their own Merrywood Court! Sam seems to like the consistency of the net lights, while Mom preferred more staggered arrangements and Dad like the LED lights. Unfortunately, one thing the prize committee seemed to reward is the inflatables (and lots of em). It was nice to see the Johnstons, Bidwells, and Walkers all on the list of featured houses. Then there were Jack and Jennifer’s houses, which had no holiday lights at all. In Jack’s defense – his family is Jewish (although they did have a Christmas tree in the living room).

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Late Dinner

Sam’s basketball team is 0-2 but they are having a fun season. The coach does not yell at the refs and Sam likes playing with Will and Garrett. Sam also gets to play point guard about half of the time. Today they played against John Delaney and Sam got to match up against him for most of the time. 

Tonight Dad realized at 11:30pm that Sam did not have any dinner. Sam said he wanted “chicken”, so they made a quick run to BK for some chicken fries and a Hershey’s Sundae Pie.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Fun Skate

Sam went to the ice house tonight to hang out with his friends at the "Friday Fun Skate". This seems to be their new hangout this year. 

He also qualified for the FSMS spelling bee finals next Thursday. Hopefully this year he will spend time studying the words on the sheet, since last year they pulled 100% of the words from that sheet.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Winter Band Concert

Mom, Dad, and Pete went to the winter concert at Broad Run. Pete got to enjoy it from a different perspective, since he is not in the band this year (he and Dad had asked the new band director, Mr. Dempsey, to switch his classes so he could be in wind ensemble, but apparently Mr. Dempsey seems to be a busy guy because he never replied and eventually that ship had sailed). It was a fun concert, including the traditional playing of “The Grinch” complete with projected animation on the big screen. The final number was also an impressive version of Polar Express played by the combined band and orchestra ensembles (in other words, everyone on stage at the same time).

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Thunderbirds Kingpinz

Sam had a busy day today. He came home from school for 10 minutes and then Grace picked him up to go get Garrett at school and go to the Thunderbirds bowling event at Kingpinz. Then Mom brought them from Kingpinz to basketball practice.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Name Any Song

Sometimes Sam will sit with his ukulele and ask someone to “name any song”. The translation is “name any of the songs that I know how to play”. This helps to narrow it down from the 10 million songs that are out there to the dozen or so that he can play. Anyhow, here are some songs that he knows how to play in case this ever comes up:
  • We Don't Believe What's On TV
  • Screen
  • House of Gold
  • Can't Help Falling in Love
  • The Judge
  • Volcano Song
  • Bobs Burgers Theme
  • Stressed Out
  • Riptide
  • Car Radio
  • Living the Life of Dreams

Monday, December 07, 2015

Toenail Repair

Dad took Pete to see Dr. Yang for his ingrown toenail. Pete chose the Spanish option when checking in on the computer kiosk. Then he and Dad watched some "Miles From Tomorrowland" for a while until they were called back to see the Doctor.

The decision was to remove a good part of the nail, which was not a pleasant procedure but they numbed it up pretty good and Pete was glad to get it treated. The procedure was a bit amusing as Dr. Yang had several assistants observing the procedure.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Popcorn Delivery

Dad and Sam drove up to Lansdowne to deliver the popcorn to the four customers who purchased from Sam this year (he only went out for an hour this year, but was still the top seller in his pack, after counting his sales to family and donation from Uncle Victor). Then Dad went to play hockey in Reston. Pete was gone for the day at an undisclosed location with his friends.

Saturday, December 05, 2015


Dad, Pete, and Sam were walking back to the car at Ledo Pizza when they walked past a group just coming in. In the back of their truck was a full-size hot tub, in transit. This gave them a few good ideas for some practical jokes. The first was simply to remove the hot tub and then see the looks on the faces when they came back out to their car and found it missing. But then Dad was struck with an even better idea – they could fill up the hot tub and turn it on, so they would be lounging in the tub (with jets going) when the people came out to their car after lunch. The logistical challenges of this proposition were too much to contemplate, so they just piled back into their own car and headed home. 

Later in the evening, Mom had the idea of reinstating the “Advent Games” concept they had done last year. Every day, they would pick a game off the tree and play it together in family bliss. Today’s game was Peggle, which was only on the Xbox downstairs, so they decided to play Tribond instead. The teams were Pete and Dad against Mom and Sam. The game seemed to start out well enough, but it ultimately ended in someone getting so upset that he destroyed the board and then declared the game a draw. Sadly, no one can play Yellow in that game anymore, since one of the yellow tokens suffered an unknown fate and could not be found despite an ardent search after the incident.

[Update: the yellow token was located a few days later in Pete's jacket pocket. The jacket had been draped on the back of the chair prior to the "incident"]

Friday, December 04, 2015

Ice House Party

Sam’s birthday began with a breakfast surprise and note from Mom (see photo). 

Then at school he was pleased that Jack had decorated his locker. That evening, of course it was time for his birthday party at the Ashburn Ice House. The attendees were Garrett, Jack, Emily, Jennifer, Jackson, Jacob, and Colin. Note the balloons in this picture (photo). They did not last very long once the boys figured out that they had helium in them. 

Also, you will see the cup with 20 forks in it. They all disappeared when they were passed around the table and Garrett hid all  of them, exclaiming "these are my forks; you guys get your own".

Pizza and cookie cake (photo) was followed by about 90 minutes of skating. 

Sam and his friends had a great time at the party. 

Sam also stayed after the party to watch Jacob play in his hockey game on the other side of the Ice House. He was playing on a Broad Run team (along with his brother) in a scrimmage against his “normal” team (Ashburn Xtreme). Jacob played well, although they were losing 7-2 when Sam and Dad left at the end of the second period. The next job would be for Sam to spend his gift card money at Target and Amazon.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Holiday Choral Concert

Pete had his holiday choral concert this evening. Sam sat with Jack. Pete was in the “Chamber” Choir, and also in charge of the lighting for the show, since he is now known for managing the lighting for the recent “Lend Me a Tenor” production. The rankings of the choirs, in skill order, are (1) Jazz (2) Chamber (3) Women’s (4) Gospel (5) Concert. Dad actually knew one of the songs (Eliyahu) from his Hebrew School days many years ago. 

Also earlier today, Sam was eliminated from the Finals of the FSMS Geography Bee upon not being able to name the desert near Death Valley, California (Mojave). It is left to the reader to guess the ethnicity of the child who won. (Hint: it is a Geography Bee). (Hint 2: Located between Pakistan and Bangladesh).

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Hey Mr DJ

Mom and Sam had an early dinner and then Mom took Sam to basketball practice. Pete and Dad ate dinner on 2nd shift and took advantage of the alone time to play some “Heads Up” on Dad’s phone (“Hey Mr DJ” category). This is where one person hums the songs and tries to get the other person to guess them. This gave Pete some last-minute practice for his choir concert the following evening.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Bone for Shadow

Pete had his Jingle Ball concert at school, and Mom had class, so Dad and Sam went to Deli Italiano and then stopped in the dog shop next door to get a Christmas present for Shadow (bone). This took a while, as there were quite a few bones to choose from.

Monday, November 30, 2015


Sam had his Troop meeting tonight. Dad dropped him off and then went to do a Geocaching presentation to Troop 966 in Sterling. At bedtime, Sam and Dad finally got to the section of the Science book about creating energy in cells. Sam was pretty upset that item #333 said "mitochondria are the factories of the cell" rather than "mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell", a phrase that they had been hoping to hear for several weeks.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Dad was putting Sam to bed. After reading the nightly passage from 1001 Things everyone Needs To Know About Science, Dad said "If we go to visit Bill and Becky again next year, everyone will be a year older". Sam said that was the most meaningless statement he had ever heard. So Dad paused and decided he would say something so profound that it would make up for the previous statement. After a few seconds, he said "Did you know that your eyeballs rarely touch each other." Now Sam was so shocked by the immensity of this statement that his eyeballs grew wide, emerged from his head and clicked against each other. Well, maybe not quite, but almost. All of this gave Sam the hiccups, which could not be remedied even after holding his breath for 20 seconds, and then 30 seconds after that.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Bill and Becky's Annual Get-Together

Mom and Dad spent the afternoon putting up Christmas lights. Then Mom went to Charles Town with Katie, while Dad and Sam went to hang out and play games with Bill, Becky, Amanda, Meg, Trent, Michael, Sage, Emily, Marian, and Mrs. Smith. After watching Penn State get crushed by Michigan State, they had some pizza and leftover turkey and then played "Heads Up!" and round-robin ping pong.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Getaway - Return Home

The day after Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad played some shuffleboard, walked along the beach, and grabbed a Munzee. Then everyone woke up and piled in the car for the drive home. They had planned to stop at the "perfect" Friendly's that Dad had found in Lumberton, but apparently it was no longer there so they brought Wendy's to Arbys. Then they drove the rest of the way home by 7:30pm so Pete could hang out with his friends who were home from college for the holiday break (Chandler, Giuliana, Alexandra, etc.)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Getaway - Day 3

Thanksgiving was a nice day to walk over to the clubhouse for some bocce. Aunt Jo also brought her Pickleball equipment and taught Dad and Sam how to play. Dad beat Aunt Jo a few times and then Sam won a tight and spirited game against Mom. Dinner was full of spirited political discussion with Joanne and Dave. After dinner, Dad grabbed a few geocaches while the boys played some Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Getaway - Day 2

Wednesday was a relaxing day. Mom went to hang out with Nana and see the new house. Dad and Sam went swimming in the "heated" pool, hot tub, and played some ping pong. Dad got some pizza and brought it back to the room for lunch. Around 3pm, they headed over to Nana's to play some Wii and then go to dinner at Lincoln Park. Pete had two funny comments about the Kids Menu at the restaurant:

  1. "I'd like the 'or' please"
  2. "I guarantee that 'Lincoln Park Kids Menu' text is in 72 point font. That's the largest size you can select from the drop-down list without having to know how to actually use Word."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Marriott OceanWatch

Today was the start to the great Thanksgiving getaway. The group departed at the scheduled time of 4:30pm for the drive to Myrtle Beach. This despite the news report saying that 5pm - 6pm on Tuesday before Thanksgiving would be the "worst traffic hour of the year". After a few hours, they had made it most of the way to Fredericksburg, so they stopped for Chick-fil-a and Coldstone. After a few more traffic jams and accidents, they made it to Richmond and it was smooth sailing after that. They checked in at the Marriott Ocean Watch around 2:30am. The room was very nice - a big room for Pete and Sam with separate bathroom, bedroom with bath for Mom and Dad, and full main suite with kitchen and lounging area.

Here is a picture taken from the balcony:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Super Mario Bros. 3

Dad came down to the basement to keep Pete company while he completed the entirety of Super Mario Bros. 3. He did the "every level on every world" option. Still a classic. Even though they agreed that they have been pronouncing "1UP" wrong for all of these years.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fredericksburg Tournament

Sam's basketball practice was cancelled today, so he went with Dad to a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament at Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg:

They left at 1:45pm and returned home at 8:45pm. It was a "2-hour" tournament, scheduled from 4pm-6pm at the Hurley Convergence Center in Room 327.

Traffic was good, so they arrived early (3:30pm) and met Matt while the crew was setting up. Sam played some friendly practice games before the tournaments started:

Registration was to start at 3:45pm but it was delayed quite a bit while they waited for late arrivals. Dad took off around 4:00 to look for 4 geocaches. Sam registered for the singles ($3). The doubles tournament was first. Sam didn't get to play his first match until around 5:30pm. He lost to Joak (who was in the finals in the doubles tournament) in a tight match 2-1:

Then he won his first match in the loser's bracket 2-0:

Finally, he was knocked out of the tournament in a 2-0 match (Shiek):

Overall, Sam played mostly Marth and went up against Peach, Shiek, and 1 or 2 others. Dad found a pizza shop on campus, so they stopped there before heading home. Sam was pretty hungry and scarfed sown two slices while they watched the Packers/Vikings game. This school seems pretty into video games - they even had N64, PS2, and Xbox consoles for open play in the pizza shop:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Basketball Season

Sam had two scrimmages today to begin the season of 6th grade basketball in FSBL. He is on the Celtics. The first scrimmage was his best game ever. He played point guard, and deservedly so. He scored about 12 points and had about 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 4 steals. This was in a very short game with a "running clock". His second scrimmage was against the team with Ethan, Joseph, and Dylan Gonzales. Sam's team won both games. So they are off to a good start for the season. It is probably good that he chose the basketball scrimmages over going to the Webelos-o-ree to help with the monkey bridge, since he was an important asset to his team.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Donuts With Dad

Sam and Dad went to "Donuts with Dad" early in the morning at Farmwell Station Middle School. Some mornings can be tough ones for Sam (see photo). Dad called Pete from the event to wake him up at 7:40am (as requested). Pete went in early to reason with his Math teacher for some extra points, but she is an idiot so unfortunately that did not result in anything. After school, Sam went to Jack's house for a few hours, while Pete played in the pep band at the Broad Run / Stone Bridge playoff game. It was about 35 degrees and Broad Run lost 35-10. So it was a long day for Pete all around.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bull Run Festival of Lights

Tonight was the annual trip to the holiday light show at Bull Run Park. The boys actually agreed on Popeye's for dinner, so that was a bonus (even though Mom and Dad were so perplexed by the menu that it took them forever to figure out how to order). There were two funny things this year at the light show. First, they changed the path to go right past the gun range, and there were guys actually shooting. Let's just say it affected the ambiance of the event a bit. Also, there was a car in front of us who lost track of the path and ended up in the parking lot at the Atlantis water park. Pete said the driver must have "rage quit". Also, there was a lot of fog and it had a really cool effect. And Pete played his only Christmas song on his phone to set the mood. Except it was called "Merry Christmas Kiss My Ass". Next year Dad will remember to bring his favorite Christmas song ("Oi to the World"). There were only three cars there because it was the second night they were open, it was raining, and it was the middle of November. But they saved a few dollars on early bird tickets and got out of there in record time! Sam got home in plenty of time to play a few hours of Melee and forget to do his word study assignment. Then Pete stayed up until 2am preparing notes for his open-note Biology quiz.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

7 Little Words

Pete had a successful audition on Monday and learned today that he will be playing the role of Batman in the one-act play "Superheroes" in January. Mom, Sam, and Dad have started a daily game where they play the "7 Little Words" daily puzzle against each other. Sam has actually won a few times.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Family Motto

Pete skipped dinner to hang out with his friends at IHOP. He missed out on Dad's big efficiency improvement (lazy Suzan), as well as the incident with Sam getting up in Dad's personal space, which ended up with Sam having the hiccups for about 2 hours. Since Pete and Sam's projects were due tomorrow, they actually decided to start working on them. Sam spent about 1/3 of the time working on his project and 2/3 of the time getting upset because he couldn't install a free trial of Photoshop.

Dad was pretty happy with Pete's poster (see photo). Pete basically printed out all of the required info and pasted it on the poster. It fit well with Dad's "Berman family motto", which is roughly: "pretty good is good enough".

Monday, November 16, 2015

Turkey Butter

Sam came with Dad to pick up pizza at Domino's. This is the new Sunday tradition, since Mom figured out that the boys will eat leftover slices in their lunch at school. They stopped at Giant to look for butter in the shape of a turkey. They did not have any in stock, so sadly Dad will have to go to Wegman's. Also, Dad's new rule to encourage companionship is that if you come to Giant you get to pick one item. Sam selected a Juicy Drop Pop. After dinner, Sam and Pete got busy not working on their projects that were due on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sitdown Play

Sam went to play football at Jack's house. He invented a play where you run out, sit down, then when the defender sits down you get up and catch a pass for a TD. You would think the defender would not sit down, but surprisingly it works.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Lend Me a Tenor

Dad went to a Geocaching Symposium in Maryland today, so Mom dropped Pete off for All-County Chorus and then took Sam to "Scouting For Food". In the evening, everyone (except Sam) went to the Lend Me a Tenor show at Broad Run.

Friday, November 13, 2015

All-County Chorus

Today was the first of two days for Pete at Briar Woods for the All-County Chorus. Then he did the lighting for the play at school in the evening. Sam received a Thunderbird award for "Best Language Arts" student, and then in the evening went with Jennifer to the Ice House / Pomodoro's spirit nite.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Open Doors

Dad took Pete for his allergy shot this morning. They went a little later than usual, and thus were subjected to the Christian music that Krista plays when there is nobody in the waiting room. They enjoyed the opened door at Wild Birds Unlimited when stopping at Dunkin' Donuts. The caption for the photo Dad posted on Instagram was "someone's gonna get fired for this".

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chicken Week

Dad was home today for Veteran's Day, but everyone else had school. So he spent most of the day working on his Modern Poetry class on Coursera. Sam had enough time in the evening to finish his Science project on "Which Brand of Gum Blows the Largest Bubbles". Chicken week continued for Mom, Dad, and Sam, with Pete once again at rehearsals for "Lend Me a Tenor". He somehow ended up being on the lighting crew for this production.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Band Banquet

Tonight marked the end of the band season with the banquet in the cafeteria. Sam and Dad saved a seat for Mom, who arrived in time for the awards ceremony after her class. Pete received two awards at tonight's banquet - Best Dressed (which he ironically accepted in a Superman T-shirt) and something about Mad Libs. Dad asked what happened to the nice clothes that he and Pete had spent so much time packing in the morning (causing him to miss the bus), to which he said "I decided that I don't care".

Monday, November 09, 2015

Dinner of Legends

When Sam creates a document on the computer, there are two things that can happen. The first is that everything can go perfectly on the first try. This happened once in 2013. The other possibility is that there will be a lot of yelling, crying, and closing things in a fit of rage without saving them. Disclaimer: this is not Sam's fault, it is because the software is full of "bugs".

Tonight Sam started a game of League of Legends about 10 minutes before dinner. Unfortunately the game typically takes 20-45 minutes. Hence Sam's plate of bread and chicken and full place setting at the computer desk (see photo). On the plus side, at least he was in the kitchen.

Sunday, November 08, 2015


Sometimes Pete can be unpredictable. For example. If he goes out with his friends, there is no telling how many different McDonalds he might go to over the course of the evening. Other things are totally predictable. If he works on a project involving cutting, the next morning there will be 100 slivers of paper to be picked up under the kitchen table. If he opens a package, the package and all contents (except the item he ordered) can be found in the precise spot that he opened it for all perpetuity.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Toothpaste Games

Dad and Sam managed to play with the toothpaste tube for about 10 minutes before going to bed. It all started when they saw how Pete had managed to balance his tube next to the sink. So of course a series of games and challenges ensued.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Sudden Combat

Sam went to Jennifer's 12th birthday party at Sudden Combat, then got a ride over to the Broad Run football game. Pete saw him at the game, as he was playing there with the band. Sam was not too happy to learn that he will have basketball practice tomorrow morning at 8am.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Pride & Prejudice

Sam is having trouble this year coming up with words for his Word Study assignments in English class. The problem is that he needs to find 2 words that he doesn't know, in a book that he is reading. This is a pretty difficult proposition for Sam. However, the good news is that he recently started reading "Pride & Prejudice". It has two words he doesn't know on almost every page!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Budgetary Discussions

Tonight at dinner the topic of discussion was possibly getting a Spotify family account, or some other solution for Pete's 16GB being full on his phone. The related discussion was the monthly family budget, or "how to spend $8,053 without really trying".

Dad and Pete were able to resolve the Spotify issue (for the moment) a few days later, by clearing about 2 GB of space on Pete's  phone, so he could copy some more songs on there.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Typical Day

Pete went to District Choir auditions today on another day off from school. He has moved on from Wild Birds Unlimited and is now considering applying at Great Harvest Bread. Today was Election Day, so Dad took down the yard sign for Al Nevarez (who lost to Ron Meyer, as expected). After sitting at home for four days, Sam remembered as he was brushing his teeth before bed that he had a homework assignment. So yeah, it was pretty much a typical day.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Wild Employees Unlimited

Pete and Sam were home from school (teacher work day), so they went with Dad to Ledo for lunch. Pete brought up that he is planning to apply for the open position at the new "Wild Birds Unlimited" shop over by the Giant. There were quite a number of amusing things about this scenario, including some of the requirements on the application:

  • We are Looking for Sales Associates to "Join our Flock"
  • Our service standards require the ability to carry 50lb. bags of seed (we assume here that they are selling mostly ostriches and emus)
  • Wild bird feeding experience is not required, but is a plus.
  • Ability to climb a 10 foot ladder (perhaps this is to get to the cash register)
  • No 401(k) plan, but they do use Excel spreadsheets
  • Please, no phone calls! (we suspect the birds sleep near the phone)

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Senior Portrait

Dad thought he heard the door close this evening and then received this text message from Pete: "I went to McDonalds on very short notice; my apologies for not telling you in real life"

Above is Pete's sophomore portrait. It was intended for the wall outside of the laundry room, but Pete decided that he didn't like it so Dad sent the pictures back for a refund.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween was on a Saturday this year. Mom went out with Katie, Maddox, and Ryder. Sam went out briefly with Ethan and Joseph. He reprised his green morphsuit with the Dodgers hat (see photo, left side). Pete asked Dad if he could borrow an axe and then Dad dropped him off at Hannah’s house. The axe ended up in the same place as the spatula that Pete lent last year to Alexandra – which is some nether world where it may be seen again someday and it may not. (Update – the axe did make it back home about a week later.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bubble Gum Project

Sam decided for his Science project to do “Which Brand of Bubble Gum Yields the Largest Bubbles?”. For each of the 9 trials, Sam chewed each piece 20 times and then blew a bubble that Dad measured. It was not the most precise setup, but good enough. After turning in the project, Sam was seen chewing a lot of Dubble Bubble, Extra, and Trident bubble gum for the next few weeks.