Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grandma and Grandpa

Mel and Sandy came for a visit on the last weekend in June. This was a good opportunity to celebrate Mom's birthday. Grandma brought her usual assortment of "gifts". This means a shirt for Dad, pajamas for Mom, and some kids' books for Pete and Sam.

They couldn't get a room at the Hampton in Dulles, so they ended up in Chantilly this time. They arrived on Saturday evening, in time for some Chinese food and cake for Mom (that Dad and Pete picked up from Dairy Queen).

On Sunday, Dad and Grandpa played some par 3 golf while the others went to see the movie "Inside Out". Then they all went to dinner at Red Robin.

While waiting for their table, Dad and Sam walked to look for a geocache. They spotted the following sign, which did not seem to be in the best location:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Junior Counselor

Technically one needs to be age 15 to apply as a paid Junior Counselor at American Inline. But with Pete's experience from last year, the Director agreed to give him a shot. So he will be working for most of the summer.

Unfortunately, his first week was all the way out in McLean, and Mom had signed up for a curriculum symposium, so Dad dropped off Pete at camp each morning at 7:15am and then went to his office in Reston until it was time to pick Pete up at 4:45pm.

Pete was always the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave at the end of the day. Which is good, since he discovered that he makes time and a half for his overtime hours.

Pete received a special letter of commendation from the Director. In the past, he had taught the skateboarding and inline skating classes. But this time he agreed to teach biking classes, even though that was not his preference. He also worked very patiently with a challenging group of kids who did not know how to ride at all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sam Summer in the Arts

Sam had a fun first day at "Summer in the Arts" Camp. He is going to miss Boy Scout camp next week at Camp Otari, since he had already signed up for this camp before joining Troop 761.

Above is a picture of himself that Sam brought in to his Photoshop class on Tuesday.

The four classes Sam is taking are:

  • Beginning Drumset
  • Video Production - Level 1
  • Music Sequencing & Recording
  • Photoshopped
No one is quite sure why it is called "Photoshopped" and not "Photoshop".

Dad gave Sam $3 on the first day, in case he wanted to buy something from the shop. He spent $2.75 on a 3 Musketeers, Ring Pop, and a Mountain Dew.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Graduation Party

Saturday was Sarah's graduation party at the Indian Cove campground near Sandbridge.

There were some cool cupcakes in the shape of the Periodic Table (since Sarah is looking to pursue a major in the Chemistry field):

It was pretty hot, so there was a lot of "hanging out":

Payton managed to score a free ride, courtesy of Sam and Dad:

Finally, they got a picture of the whole family clan in attendance:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ocean Breeze

Friday was the day in between Sarah's graduation ceremony and her graduation party. So that left just enought time for a trip to Ocean Breeze.

Dad and Pete figured out that the left slide of Pirates Plummet (the dark one) is much smoother than the right one. The red and black one is the one that slices into your back like razor blades.

They left the park and got changed for dinner with everyone at Primo Pizzeria, and then some hang-out time at the house with Sarah.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sarah's Graduation

Sarah's High School graduation ceremony was on June 18th.

Pete got to sleep in at the empty townhouse where they were staying:

Mom and Pete went to the graduation ceremony, while Dad worked in the townhouse and Sam played with Aidan and Alan Michael.

Everyone gathered that evening for a barbecue at Aunt Stacey and Eddie's house.

Before dinner, Dad took Pete, Sam, and Anthony (aka flocko_tony) to the Williams Skate Park. (Sam had already been there earlier in the day with Aunt Sabrina and Anthony).

Famous Dave's

It's High School graduation week for cousin Sarah, which means time for a 4-day pilgrimage down to Virginia Beach.

Sam left on Wednesday morning to drive down with Nana, Poppy, and Shadow. After a few donuts, they hit the road at 8:30am.

Mom, Dad, and Pete headed out in the evening. It did not take more than a few minutes for the first great tragedy to occur, which was Pete dropping the USB connector for his mouse between the seats of Mom's CR-V. (It was not ultimately recovered until hours later.) So Pete had to suffer with Mom's mouse in order to contunue working on his arrangement of "Come Sail Away" on his laptop.

Dad had planned for dinner at Shane's Rib Shack in Fredericksburg, but upon arrival Pete decided that it was fast food and he wanted to go to a restaurant. So they headed a bit further to Famous Dave's.

Pete was kind enough to take a picture of a hungry Mom and Dad while they were waiting for their food.

Ultimately, they arrived in Virginia Beach around 11:30pm, with enough time to get a quick tour of Aunt Stacy and Eddie's new house and put Sam to bed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sam 5th grade Carnival

Sam had his last day at Dominion Trail Elementary on June 16th. They celebrated with the traditional 5th grade carnival. Dad cam to volunteer, and Sam enjoyed the free food, dunk tank, and other rides and amusements.

At the end of the carnival, Sam and his classmates paraded around the hallway to bid farewell to their fellow students. Pete rode the bus over from school and snuck in the back door with Dad to join in the fun.

Here is the video made by Cindy Markowitz:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sam's Posse

The picture above was taken at the 5th grade awards assembly. Pictured are:
  • (top) Tyler Guard, Shril Shah
  • (second) Brennan Colby, Jackson Myers, Jose, ??
  • (third) Cassidy Wright, Katie Erny, Caroline Hidenrick, Lindsay Goodwin, Jennifer Owen, Nate Hoaglund, Gavin Baca, Brett Griffis, Sam, Nick Baker, ??, ??
  • (bottom) Jannah Fawzy, Avery Collins

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sam 5th Grade Awards

Mom, Dad, Nana, and Poppy attended Sam's 5th grade awards assembly this morning at Dominion Trail Elementary.

Sam received the following awards:

  • Spelling Bee 1st place medal (and name engraved on plaque to remain for 18 years)
  • Certificate of Promotion (for graduating from 5th grade)
  • Cheesy gold medal (for graduating from 5th grade)
  • Continental Math medal (2nd place, 1 point behind Quin Dumouchelle)
  • Continental Mathematics League certificate with distinction
  • Presidential Pin for Academic Excellence
  • President's Award Certificate for Academic Excellence
  • Letter from Barack Obama
  • Language Arts Outstanding Achievement Certificate from Mrs. Lindenfeldar
  • Geography Bee Certificate of Special Recognition (2nd Place)
Sam also joined his classmates in singing the following:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Alto Sax

Sam decided that he wanted to play Alto Sax in Middle School next year. So Dad set off to find a sax that Sam could play over the summer (and not have to rent in the Fall for an exorbitant monthly fee).

There was a nice Vito saxophone for sale in Sterling on Craigslist, similar to this:

So everyone took a drive out to the Eastern part of Sterling to check it out. They walked around back of a house that the sellers were renting, and the lady waited while Sam and Pete tried it out. It came with the case and a few reeds for $300. Sam liked it, so they brought it home.

Sam did not take long to start getting comfortable with his new sax, with some help from Pete.

Hopefully Sam will enjoy his new instrument for many years to come.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Marble Jar

Sam's 5th grade class filled up their marble jar, so tomorrow is shaping up to be a fun day:

  • Electronics Day (can bring in electronic devices to play with)
  • Pajama Day
  • Extra recess
  • Lunch in the classroom
  • Free Time
  • Stuffed Animal Day
We've officially reached the part of the year where the SOL exams are long completed and they are just counting the days until June 16th.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Sweetest Goodbye

This past year Pete completed his freshman year of High School and Sam finished 5th grade. Mom woke Sam up most days and dropped him off at the bus on her way to teaching Math at Sterling Middle School.

This gave Dad and Pete some quality time to spend together going to the allergy shot clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays ("ENT and Allergy Specialists of VA").

Dad discovered that the music they play in the waiting room is adult easy listening. More specifically: "Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, and occasionally some other stuff".

Dad and Pete worked out a game that if they play either Bruno Mars or Maroon 5 while they are at the office (typically between 5 and 15 minutes), then they would stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to school. Not surprisingly, this came to fruition more often than not (although a few times Pete had to be at school so they skipped the donuts anyhow).

Dad also found it amusing that he was always getting slammed by the receptionist. There are many examples, but here is a typical one:

Dad: I don't think we owe anything this time because I paid extra last time and we have a balance
Receptionist: Sorry, I'm looking at the account and you don't have a balance
Dad: Hmm, I was pretty sure we had a balance
Receptionist: No, you definitely don't have a balance
Dad: Ok
Receptionist: You do have a credit of $30, though. So you don't have to pay anything.
Dad: [Sigh]

Monday, June 08, 2015


Sam has started to clean out his school items, since there is only one week left in 5th grade. Dad discovered that Sam brought home the paper shown above, in a red folder labeled "Homework". Dad presumed that it has been sitting empty in Sam's folder since early September. Perhaps Sam was not in class on the day that they did the goal setting exercise.

The good news is that one of the blanks is filled out on the sheet (Name). The bad news is that the writing is not Sam's, so someone must have filled that in for him. Which gave Dad an idea...

Dad is not one to leave an empty sheet of goals, so he went ahead and filled out the sheet with a few ideas:

There is still one week left in the querter, so anything is still possible...

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Riven Build Guide

Sam posted his first "publication" today - a Riven Build Guide on MobaFire (wiki). It is a detailed strategy guide for a character in League of Legends.

Below are some excerpts from the guide:


Hello everyone! My name is Le monpudding52, and Riven is one of my favorite champions. I've been playing her a lot recently, and I figured I would share my thoughts and ideas with her.
This will be a little bit in depth, so just take it a step at a time. It will highlight laning phase, mid-game roaming, teamfighting, and late game.


      [*]High mobility and damage [*]Can get blown up in fights
      [*]Has a shield and 2 hard CCs [*]Is vulnerable to targeted poke
      [*]Has a strong lane phase [*]Is sometimes hard to use in teamights
      [*]Can save teammates [*]Loses duels vs autoattackers like Udyr
      Animation Cancelling
      This is the list of basic animation cancels for Riven:
      E - any Q
      E - W
      E - R (activate)
      E - R - any Q (activate)
      E - R (wind slash)
      3rd Q - W
      R (wind slash) - 3rd Q
      In any of those combos, the abilities will happen at the same time, cancelling the movement of your champion for one of them, but still doing the damage and CC. Props to FragonHD for this video.

      Laning Phase

      You will have Broken Wings at level 1. When you get into lane and the minions walk down, start going aggressive with Q. Q into them, autoattack. Again. If you don't get the autoattack off, it's ok. Do that for the first two Qs. On the third one, try and hit them and then get about 2-3 autoattacks off, the knockup gives you time. Get Valor second unless you are against a ranged champion. Ki Burst against ranged champions. You have more mobility with E now, so it is easier to close the gap. I often find myself pushed all the way to their tower within the first couple minutes. If that happens, ward the river with trinket, and IF you have teleport, look for opportunities to gank bot lane. Try to bully them as much as you can. If their jungle ganks you, use all your Q charges and E to get out. If you get a chance, try and stun them for extra distance. When stunning them, cancel the animation for it by dashing away at the same time. When you take down their tower or at about 20 minutes, group with your team.

      Mid Game and Roaming

      During mid-game, Riven is VERY effective at picking off high priority targets. She has a lot of CC to help her lock down carries. If you find someone out of position, pick a fight with them. Remember not to burn your ult on just one person. If the rest of the enemy team fights your team, activate Blade of the Exile. Get in position to stun more than 2 people or knockup more than 2. If you get a successful stun off, activate hydra and your 3 charges of Broken Wings. As their health gets lower, Wind Slash to finish them off or to get them low enough for your ADC to get them all. Besides fights, group with your team and push towers. You have a lot of waveclear so it is easy enough to push up to towers. You also have a lot of AD to take down the towers.


      Like I said before, teamfighting can either be really simple or really hard depending on their team. I already highlighted the individual parts, but this will be more in-depth. When starting fights, YOU are the instigator. Pick fights when you want to, just make sure your team can follow up. Stun them or knock them all up. After you go in, your team can use their CC and AOE to help out. Use all your AOE sources of damage, while trying to weave autoattacks onto their AD carry or mid laner. If you start to get low, try and Q or E out. If you do manage to escape the fight, you can re-engage when your abilities come back up, just make sure you hit your CC so they can't just blow you up. Note you should have Blade of the Exile on during the whole fight. When they get low enough, use Wind Slash to finish them off. Credits to Best Plays on youtube, go check him out.

      Late Game

      If you play the early and mid game well, you should be kind of fed in the late game. Try and pick teamfights if you can. If you have Youmuu's or Zephyr, splitpushing can be a good idea.
      If you are splitpushing, use your AOE to clear the waves to push down towers faster. When grouping with your team, it is often easy to get the other team to fight you. It isn't very nice, but you can sometimes bait out angry enemies by spamming an emote like laugh or taunt. If they go for you, just engage onto them. Farm whatever you can, upgrade trinket, get wards down and try and get as big a lead as you can for your team.


      That's all I can think of for now, guys. I will probably be adding more chapters in the future or editing the current ones. Just remember, you can use your own ideas too.If you want to take teleport, go ahead. If you want to build Sorcerer's Shoes, go ahead. This is just what I find works the best and is most reliable/consistent. If you have any suggestions or feedback, go ahead and tell me. Thanks for reading!

      Friday, June 05, 2015

      Science Project

      Pete turned in his science project today on climate change. An ambitious topic for a 9th grade Earth Science class, but it was one that Mr. Lee was willing to accept.

      This year in Science has been a bit of a struggle, with Mr. Lee learning the ropes of being a Science teacher (despite having done it now for 15+ years) and  Pete having to re-do some of his work at times as projects became properly documented and clarified. In retrospect, he wishes he had taken the "more difficult" Biology class.

      Next year Pete is taking another basket of honors classes, so hopefully he is getting more comfortable with doing these projects. Among the other projects Pete has grappled with this year were the articles/timeline for AP History, and the anthology (esesntially an entire book) and "thrice told tales" projects for Honors English.

      Dad suggested that Pete have a climate change debate with Tom on our trip in July, but Pete will probably pass on that. Mike was going to rig up the ultra-liberal Thad to be the judge, so there was no way Pete could lose.

      Wednesday, June 03, 2015

      Final Scenes

      Pete took Theatre I this year at Broad Run and they performed "Final Scenes" on June 3rd and 4th. His teacher was Mr. Willmot. Mom and Dad went to watch Pete and Heath Yancey perform ""Cover" by Samuel French. They did a great job.

      Pete also got recruited to perform in one of the other plays when one of the students could not participate.

      These were the other Final Scenes that day:

      1. The Nerd (Will H and Matt W)
      2. The Surgery (Sam B and Jared R)
      3. Beyond Therapy (Nicole B and David G)
      4. A Slight Ache (Mia D and Nick H)
      5. Psycho Beach Party (Vedika D, Samantha S, and Nicole B)
      6. Blueberry Hill Accord (Laura G and Lauren S)