Tuesday, May 31, 2016


The boys have been happy to see more of Mom and Dad recently, now that hopefully Mom’s kidney stones are mostly behind her. And Dad will be happy now that May is over, hoping that June brings fewer visits to CVS.

Monday, May 30, 2016


Sam enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend with two of the three days at the pool with his friends. He is old enough this year (12) to go to the pool by himself. Unfortunately, he did not do as well today with the sunscreen as he did yesterday, so he was spotted applying the soothing blue aloe lotion several times in the evening. Surprisingly, the worst of the burn may have been the tops of his feet. Nana and Poppy came over for a nice dinner of steak and potatoes.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Shadow's Bone

Sam finally got to give Shadow her Christmas present when she came to visit at the end of May. She seemed to like it a lot, as she was chewing on it and guarding it from everyone.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Accidental Acknowledgement

Pete drove to Jennifer’s graduation party at the Loudoun Valley Community Center in Purcellville. Dad helped him navigate. Sam went to the Ashburn Farm Summer Kickoff Festival with his friends. Jack threw up after one of the rides and had to leave early, but Sam stayed all the way from 4pm to the fireworks show at 9:30. Mom and Dad rode their bikes over there also to hang out for a bit and get some food from one of the trucks. Sam  had to be careful when walking by Mom and Dad to make sure he did not accidentally acknowledge their existence.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Melee Restriction

Sam has a hand injury, possibly due to excessive Melee practice. So he has asked Mom and Dad to restrict him from playing video games for the next two weeks. The world is turned upside-down at the moment.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Band Banquet

Mom went with Pete to tonight’s Band Banquet, as Dad was at his meeting for Assistant Scoutmasters in Sam’s Boy Scout Troop. 

Sam stayed home, of course. Sam also found out today that he passed both of his SOL tests – 585 in Math and 598 in Reading (out of 600). If you get a 600, they put your picture on the wall in the cafeteria. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Choir Revue

Tonight was Pete’s “Revue” for choir. He did a great job. First he accompanied Mitch Glaes on piano for “Razzle Dazzle” from Chicago. Then he performed the challenging “It Takes Two” from Into the Woods with Eve Coleman (accompanied on piano by Alesia’s mom). Pete had to audition for each performance against some stiff competition just to make it into the show. After the show, Pete and Dad got Popeyes and also discovered upon returning home that Sam was still at Colin’s house playing Call of Duty 3 and basketball.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SOL Loophole

Mom figured out a loophole today that will get Pete out of having to take his History SOL test, since he can use his AP score in lieu of the test. She explained this to the Principal of Pete’s High School (Mr. Spage). So Pete will have a few hours on Thursday to leave school and do whatever he likes. We should all be so lucky. Meanwhile Mr. Spage would prefer to have Pete take the test, since it would improve the school’s pass rate. Dad was thinking maybe he should convince Mr. Spage to bring Pete some donuts and then maybe he’ll take the test.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Crossing Paths

Mom and Pete went to the band commitment night followed by Chipotle. Dad and Sam went to the Court of Honor, where Sam received his Tenderfoot award, followed by Scotto’s. Everyone's paths crossed briefly at the dinner table.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Revolving Door

Sunday was a busy day. Pete had Chris and Jack over to work on his Shakespeare video for English class, then Eve for a while to practice for choir, and Alesia and her mom to practice for the upcoming revue performance. Sam went to the mall to see a movie, and then had to finish his Science project by 7pm to avoid losing his phone privileges for a day. Sam and Dad also had time right before bed to watch Leffen defeat Mango in the finals of the “Get On My Level 2016” Melee tournament.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Head in the Clouds

Sometimes the papers in Sam’s Science folder leave Dad scratching his head. He doesn’t remember ever learning about the difference between cirrus, stratus, nimbostratus, and all the other types of clouds. It is hard to understand how this will be important. If Sam goes on to become a climatologist or meteorologist, one would hope that they would cover this in his first year college courses. If not, it is hard to envision Sam looking up at the sky one summer day and exclaiming “Based on that combination of cirrus and nimbostratus clouds, we must take cover immediately!”, rescuing dozens of his friends and family. All thanks to the Loudoun County public school Science curriculum.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Food Lists

It can be a challenge coming up with ideas for foods to serve for dinner or to put in Sam’s lunch. Above are various documents / attempts at lists of foods. Pete has also expressed a desire to eat healthier lunches. He usually tells Mom that she has packed "too much" in his lunch (even though it is only 3 or 4 small items). This past week he removed his cupcake a few times. Now that Sam has figured out how to use the microwave in the cafeteria, sometimes Mom will pack him a slice of leftover pizza from Papa John’s. (Actually he probably eats it at room temperature most of the time since that is easier than using the microwave.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

We’re Going To Be Friends

This morning Pete was playing the guitar for a few minutes while waiting to leave for the bus. Dad discovered that it was one of his favorite songs – “We’re Going To Be Friends” by the White Stripes. Dad pulled up the lyrics and sang along as Pete played the song. It was a memorable moment for Dad.

Here are some of Pete's favorite times to practice trumpet/piano/guitar:

  • Moments before it is time to leave
  • When people are sleeping
  • He has so much homework he doesn't know which to do first

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Dad was pleased this evening when Sam asked him to help with something. He was coding his own platform game in Scratch! The subroutine that was giving Sam difficulty was when the avatar walked off the edge of a platform, she floated and did not fall. Dad helped Sam resolve the issue fairly quickly. He also gave Sam ideas for some cool game levels that night when they were at Fuddruckers. He’ll have to see later if Sam’s finished game has the "button-code wall" or "meteor shower" levels that Dad had suggested. Sam also woke up early the next day to continue working on the game. And if you know Sam, that's some pretty serious dedication.

Sam signed up for a Scratch camp in the summer, but unfortunately the camp did not have enough people signed up and was canceled.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Dad and Pete discussed some issues in the field of Bioethics this morning over some Cocoa Pebbles. In particular, they were debating the merits of adding Lithium to the public water supply. 

After school, Dad revealed to Pete his idea for a new musical called “Perspective”. Dad has the show mostly framed out; now Pete just needs to write all of the music. The show has two halves, each of which looks at the course of a relationship from the viewpoint of one participant. At the end, the two arcs merge together to a conclusion.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Slow Pour

Sam completed his Board of Review this evening, earning his Tenderfoot rank for Boy Scouts. Mom and Dad celebrated this by ordering pizza instead of cooking dinner. Also, Dad demonstrated to Pete how to pour gas into the lawn mower without spilling it all over the place. It turns out, the trick was something that Pete had never considered – pour the gas in slowly.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Twilight Zone

Dad got home pretty late (1am) from his weekend NECSS conference in New York city. Pete was sitting at the kitchen table working on his math homework. Dad went to bed. Pete stayed up to watch two episodes of The Twilight Zone. He is working through this old series on Netflix. He saw “The Hitch-hiker” and “The Fever”, which he discussed with Dad in the morning prior to walking to the bus.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Free" Luv'n'berry

Sam had a free 5 ounce Luv’n’berry gift card expiring today. He got it in his packet of coupons from Farmwell Station for being selected as a “School To Watch” (whatever that means). Anyhow, Sam did not want to go, so Pete went with Dad. Of course, it is impossible for Pete to limit himself to 5 ounces, so Dad had to pay the extra overage charge. 

They sat on the Manhattan Pizza side of the restaurant, to watch the Capitals/Penguins playoff game 6, and saw Sam’s friend (Jack) and his Dad there with his baseball team. They stopped at CVS on the way home so Dad could get a Magnum premium caramel ice cream bar as a surprise for Mom. Dad was disappointed to discover at the register that somehow this bar costs about the same as a half-gallon of premium ice cream at the grocery store.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Burning Scalp

In the above picture, you can see the two recent updates to Pete and Sam’s shower. Mom got a new shower curtain and curved rod, like the ones they have in the hotels. She also got the two pump bottles for shampoo and conditioner, as seen on the top shelf. This led to an interesting new discovery about Pete. One morning he told Dad that his scalp was burning for no reason. Dad asked if he did anything different in his morning routine. He said only that he had to use an abundance of shampoo because Sam used way too much conditioner and then the levels in the bottles were uneven. This liquid equivalence requirement is yet another case where Pete is critically committed to fairness and equity in all things.

Monday, May 09, 2016


Sam (finally) did the raising and lowering the flag at tonight’s Boy Scout meeting, which qualifies him for the Tenderfoot rank. He also had the “15 minute” Scoutmaster conference with Stuart (which of course went for about 45 minutes). And on the home front Pete made it up to #2 rank on Slither. Dad had quit the game earlier in the week after making it to #1 for about 15 seconds.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Quarter Bang

Sam and Dad invented an odd game at dinner. For reasons that are hard to remember, Sam aggressively placed a quarter on the table. Dad told him not to do any more quarter bangs. So the game is that basically you ask a question and then slam a quarter on the kitchen table and then make a bad "quarter bang" pun. Example: “What is less than half a passer on a football team?” “Quarter bang!” (and you slam the quarter). Then someone else grabs the quarter and does one. At one point Mom grabbed the quarter and everyone got excited to see what she came up with, but she was just holding the quarter in  the hopes that there would be no more of that game.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

One Loudoun Festival

Sam went to the festival at One Loudoun with his friends. He got to pet a lot of dogs, so it was a success in his book. He also got a Strawberry Limeade smoothie at Tropical Smoothie. This was a few months before the great "Strawberry Tropical Smoothie Hepatitis A Outbreak" of Summer 2016. Mom and Sam had a quiet night together, as Dad went to "Skeptics in the Pub" in Manassas and Pete had his cast party from the musical. They were supposed to go out to dinner, but Sam never got hungry.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Phone Drops

Sam and Dad went to Deli Italiano for dinner. Sam posed a lot of good questions for discussion. For example, “which do you think would be harder – climbing Mount Everest, or running for 24 hours straight?”. Also, the guy at the next table dropped his iPhone, which did not sit well with Dad since Sam knows quite well that Dad does not like phone drops of any kind.

Sometimes Sam will "drop" his phone just to see its effect on Dad. Ten years from now, he will ask Dad why he has a nervous tic and Dad will say that he can't remember.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Helicopter Seeds

Dad and Sam played for about 10 minutes on the driveway when Sam got home from the bus. They were tossing the little helicopter seeds in the air, and trying to catch them. It is harder than it sounds. After about 100 failed attempts, Sam declared “ok, this is the one” and then proceeded to catch the next one.

Also, at dinner Dad asked everyone to guess who the Mayor of Merrywood Court was on the Swarm app. After quite a lot of guesses, Pete finally guessed that it was Cheryl Onderchain.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Ten Sheets of Good Paper

Today there was a typical discussion between Sam and Pete. Sam asked Pete what the difference was between left-handed scissors and right-handed scissors. Pete gave his best attempt at patiently explaining the difference, while trying to demonstrate it to Sam. This was not sufficient, and Sam declared that there was no advantage of using left-handed scissors. Dad told Sam to go look on the internet to see another explanation. Sam was growing more frustrated as the conversation proceeded. Dad told Pete to let it go. Pete told Sam that if he (Sam) were to cut through ten sheets of paper with each hand, he would see the difference. This is the moment in the conversation where Dad realized that he was soon going to be losing 10 sheets of good paper.

Dad told Sam not to cut through 10 sheets of good paper. Sam took out 10 sheets of good paper and cut through it with each hand. Sam declared that there is no difference. Dad declared that Pete was to blame for all of this.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Do Not Walk Pass This Point

Pete and Dad went this morning for an allergy shot. Of course, Maroon 5 was playing when they walked in so, per the Maroon 5 / Bruno Mars rule, Pete knew he would be getting two donuts on the way to school. Also, the allergy place did not disappoint in providing something ridiculous, which was two new signs which were posted (see photo below). The signs had too many arrows pointing in every direction, and said “DO NOT WALK PASS THIS POINT UNLESS YOU HEAR YOUR NAME BEING CALLED OR YOU HAVE TO USE THE RESTROOM. Thank you for your consideration!!” Whoever made this sign (our money is on Krista) did make up for their lack of grammar with copious use of font colors and clip art.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Macbeth Costume

Sam notified Mom at 7:00am this morning that he would be needing a full Macbeth costume by 7:30am that he could bring to school. Mom considered the appropriate answer, which would be “no”, but of course she came through by creating an outstanding costume from scratch in 25 minutes. There may be a picture of said costume posted here sometime. Mrs. Rivinius is supposedly going to "post the video of the performance on her web page", but that has not happened yet and the chances seem to be diminishing as each day goes by.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Loci Bracelet?

Dad and Pete dropped Sam off at the mall so he could hang out with Jackson, Jacob, Lindsey, Sophie, and Eva. They grabbed some Flamers, Chaing Mai Thai, and Ben & Jerry’s while they were there. Of course, soon after Dad pulled in to the driveway at home, Dad received a text from Sam to come pick him up. Sam bought a new game called Pokken Tournament and something called a Loci bracelet that apparently costs $20. In the evening, Dad helped Sam practice his lines as Macbeth for Monday’s in-class production. Pete helped Dad grill some barbecue chicken at 9pm for a late dinner.

Dad asked Sam in September about the $20 Loci bracelet:
"Whatever happened to that Loci bracelet that you got at the mall?"
"Oh. It's gone."
"You lost it?"
"Yeah I guess so."