Monday, March 14, 2011


Friday and Saturday our family took deep breathes, gave heartfelt prayers for Japan, then resolved to go forward, giving our minds and hearts permission to put passion FIRST, and enter the robot zone.

Then this happened! Imagine me, the Chcikenbl the Chickenblogger, having to walk away from brand new, just hatching baby chicks!! Impossible? Just about, but now you get a pretty good idea how I feel about my family and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox... because I secured Zelda and her adorable brood, then grabbed my pom-poms, and headed to absolute robotics awesomeness.

No regrets! Even with chicas on the brain, this was where I wanted to be.

Friends, you may remember Mark Leon? He reminds us to "Do the math, and save the world!" Mark Leon is the blue-haired, high energy, math pumping, spirited emcee of FIRST Regional Competitions. He's the best. His high energy, which he maintains over two days of competition, is spirited and intelligent. He keeps the games moving forward, while celebrating the students' achievements, efforts, and dance appetites. He does not steal the show, he highlights the students, who are the real stars.

Here it is... my uncensored, unrehearsed, unedited truth:  I cannot manage my emotions long enough to write about what happened, about these students, about their successes, about what they do and the grace, spirit and professionalism they do it with.  I cry when I preview the videos.  My hands shake when I see their robot,  or recall their dance.  I am going to share a few of about one thousand images from my camera, and I want you to know that each moment captured represents one hundred thousand just like it.  FRC San Diego was a competition, a chance to represent in a game, the minds, the work, the ambition of FIRST 2102 Team Paradox... a high school robotics team with enough energy, spirit, intelligence, and perseverance to light an entire arena and beyond.

Daniel, Betty

Get fierce with us~
Get spirited with us~
We did the math, now the games begin, and we don't stop until they close the doors.

It's a roller coaster ride... in the arena seats, in the pits, on the playing field. Of course, for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, the ride is always UP! UP!! UP!!!


The celebration, or competition (we seem to make them one and the same) is hard earned, and no one stops working to keep the bots rolling.

Andrea and Maria

I think there are indications of when something is truly exceptional, and when it has attracted truly exceptional people. This team is only five years old. It is a growing team, with new members joining every year. And those graduating? They come back... often to mentor, to ensure the viability of the team they will always be a part of.

Society wants us to be believe that young adults are aloof or unfocused, but I beg to differ. I know some brilliant young people that take great care to make responsible, intelligent choices, and they are conscientiously making this a better world.

Our team filled an entire section (overfilled!) with family, teachers, mentors, neighbors, sponsors, administrators, friends, other team members! and new fans of FIRST!

Kevin B, Matt, and Jessie

They came from near and far for their team.


New generations of engineers and artists for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

Lonnie and Alex

Do you know what happens when great artists, great designers, great builders, spirited, talented, brilliant people get together and agree to build a robot, take it to a competition, and inspire an entire arena to cheer with you, and for you...? Paradox! Paradox happens.
FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

And team spirit is wonderfully contagious! It spreads like a smile. It crosses borders, and gives everyone a FIRST 3794 WinT- Paradox attitude!

FIRST 2102 Team Paradox loves a spirited rookie team!

Myron and Alex

Mentors! We love our mentors!
A good mentor stands behind the students, and steps up when there is a need, when asked. And that is a lot to ask of a mentor, but these students are sincere when they say that they want to learn... learn by doing, learn by trying, learn by winning, and even from failing... then trying again, and again.

Some people think that young people cannot get it right, cannot see a clear path for themselves, and they want to step in at every turn in the road. I say, they need our support, they need our understanding, our time, our encouragement, and sometimes they need us to step out of the way and let them go where they are meant to go. A clear course is never guaranteed, and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is gaining the confidence and skills to navigate for any obstacles. They get it right.

Maria and Amy

They get it right, and then they come back to the Team that will always be a part of who they are. And they share their knowledge and passion, inspiring new generations to reach for greatness! Asa and Matt, Nick, Haley, Kelsey, Amy, Andrea, Isaac, Kevin... a few of the people I know that have built a foundation that is rising higher and higher, bringing along new students, new engineers, new artists, spirited, young Paradox... the future is secure for FIRST 2102!

From across town, across the country, from all over the world, FIRST 2102 Team Paradox brought in new friends to robotics, new fans for FIRST, for science and math, for team spirit!

Maria and Sammay

Maria has been around robots, and techno-geeky-LEGO passion all her life. She was introduced to Team Paradox when she was three years old. She was traveling with the team by the time she was four years old. Now. Well, now she is pretty sure after she finishes kindergarten, she will go straight to high school... straight to FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

She's been learning from the best!
We have no intention of unplugging her.

And it makes my heart joyful to see her secure and happy, because I know that this Team extends beyond the campus, beyond the arena... it has become a family of caring and passionate people working together to support dedicated students achieve their dreams. Everyone looking out for one another.

Will, Greg, Victoria, and Kyle

Girls FIRST. FIRST Girls! Oh, Victoria! I got my eyes on you! This child is going places. Rumors of her eloquence and sweet skills talking with judges, and working on the drive team, make me very excited for Paradox.

Tatiana, Andrea, Amy

The talents and leadership abilities of our marketing and build teams are spectacular. I see Andrea and Amy doing great things in their universities, and they bring it home to their team. And Tatiana. Yes. Girls FIRST. FIRST Girls! FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is going to rocket to outer space, with Tatiana on board.


Cheering, pom-poms, dancing... team spirit is something this team does well, and still, in the midst of all the colorful celebrating, their minds are engaged in the game, in the functioning of the robot. They have to know their fellow teams, build alliances, and face obstacles. Repairs, programming, strategy... these go on through out the day, and in some cases, late into the night.

Alex, Geoff, Tatiana, Eli, and Maria

Friday, after the mini-bot was the highest scoring mini-bot of the entire day's matches, Alex, Tatiana, and Eli restored the mini-bot. We were back home by nine p.m., and they got busy replacing burnt out motors, and fine tuning their hard working super-mini-bot, until one in the morning. The next day... super-mini-bot performed again, as it was designed and built to perform: fast, and high scoring!

Intelligent dedication. Sacrifice. It leads to very good things. Very good.
And when they have cheered themselves hoarse, and cried for joy, they have some amazing rewards to show for their efforts.

This is the emptiest our section ever was over the roughly twenty hours of the competition. This is when FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, the robotics club from San Dieguito Academy was shaking hands with the judges and accepting medals for Regional Engineering Inspiration Award. This is their second time winning this honor. In the stands, parents and friends, family, like Paul and William, keep up the cheer, for sheer joy. Winning is amazing. Winning and knowing that you are sharing it with people who love and appreciate what you do is beyond!

Third place overall. Regional Engineering Inspiration Award. Highest scoring Mini-Bot. Invitation to St. Louis FIRST Championships, and passion.

Passion FIRST!

Alex and Michal

Alex, Amy, Tatiana, and George

Eli and Jessica


George and Maria


Gabe and Nathan

Hungry Paradox

A real life Narwhal!

Maria and Nick F.


Proud parents!

Geoff, Paul, Nathan, Alex, and Maria

Sammay and Lonnie, and a Narwhal!


Gabe, Will, Kevin

Suki, Sammay and Kiley

Lonnie's birthday... real reason we all wore her favorite color and cheered for twelve hours!

I told you we feed them!

Elise, Lonnie, and Alex

President and vice president of marketing, and birthday girls: Suki and Lonnie!

Tom, and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

A letter was just forwarded to me. It's from Jeff Crosby, the Head Judge in San Diego:

"Congratulations to Team Paradox for it's outstanding performance at this year's San Diego regional! The team was great on the field, but even more importantly demonstrated excellence in all those characteristics that FIRST hopes all teams will exhibit, and this resulted in a very well deserved Engineering Inspiration Award. For those not familiar, this award is one of FIRST's highest honors, and earns the team a trip to the championships in April. Team Paradox is truly among the FIRST's elite!

Great job!


Now I am crying again. Chickenblog is, and always will be about: Deep thoughts and other musings from a woman who writes about the man she loves, their 3 sons and 1 daughter... chickens, and a passion for all children, giving them the support and tools they need to be who they are destined to be. FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is a part of that passion.


test said...

Thank you for letting us be part of the high energy competition on Saturday. It was more then I had bargained for and it was total fun. Thank you for the t-shirt and the wristband Maria gave us. I was so impressed with what these young adults are up to, I have great hopes for our future.

Anonymous said...

Great job Team Paradox!. That's terrific that you are going to St. Louis. Be sure to look up Miss Daisy and my daughter Kirsten (an assistant coach).

Miriam said...

Zowie! What a weekend! If I lived anywhere in the near vicinity I would have been there too, just to share in the fun.

tea time and roses said...

Hello Natalie,

Wow what a weekend!!:o) I see the San Diego Sports Arena in the back drop of one your photos! You my friend were just steps away from my house!!:o) What a fabulous weekend! So many beautiful smiles.

Happy week to you and the family!



Emily Cole said...

I can FEEL your chest bursting with pride! From across the whole country, I feel your pride also, even though I had absolutely nothing to do with their successes, the experience makes me swell too! How wonderful, what a great community!

Isaac Spiegel said...

There's a really elaborate, eloquent, meaningful bunch of words trying to come out of me right now, but I'm so exhausted... and this merely vicarious experience makes my insides complicated.... looked through all fb photos, all of Natalie's historic robo blog posts.....

In short:
I cried too.


Bobbie Larraga said...

Pure joy. Pure pride. Pure love. I am weeping. I have hope for our world.

Jennifer said...

So much wonderful stuff to celebrate, so many good things coming together all at once -- so well deserved!!

Cat said...

I always love seeing your info about the kid's robot doings, and that letter is just the absolute topper. I bet you aren't touching the ground, you are so happy. (And rightly so.) However, I must say, I was wondering, reading the title of your blog, what a "chicken robot" was going to be like... (I have a strange imagination...)


Anonymous said...

Ah, the two loves (among many) of your lives: your kids doing robotics and those fluffy chicas. Love all those gleeful smiles you've captured, Natalie.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Every bit of feedback from all of You makes me feel recharged and thrilled all over again about what these students are accomplishing. Robotics is not always easy, not always "fun." It is worthwhile though.
Isaac, thank you. Thank you truly, deeply. I have my own internalized drive and interest in shouting for this team, but I am not always sure I am shouting in the right direction. You saved me from feeling a bit like lone-crazed fan.

amy smith said...

i love you. i love your family. i love your energy. i love your team. i love your chicks.
so, so proud of you all.

Alison said...

Wow, your enthusiasm and support for all the kids on your team is really inspirational. I don't really understand a whole lot about what they do, but I'm a little jealous of the fun, friends and achievements you all have earned!

mtnchild said...

Go Team Paradox, go Team Paradox. I am so happy that the team is going to St. Louis.

If these kids grow up to rule the world, it would be a wonderful world indeed!
Hugs to you and the whole team!!