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.