Saturday, January 15, 2011

We Made it To Saturday

It's been a full week, and at last it is Saturday morning. I wanted to look back and recall some of the activities that had us so busy... of course, now I am drawing a blank!

Let's look at Homer for a moment, shall we?

Dear Homer.
Calming, companionable, funny Homer.

Maybe the stressful bits of this long week have evaporated because we had a day with Eli's dog, Homer. He is this happy and mellow little guy, that agreeably stays by your side, and gives you soothing, soulful looks. And when Maria was home from school, he became this playful and energetic buddy, following Maria up and down, and all around, and adapting to every new game she came up with.

So, with the stressful bits forgotten, that leaves happy recollections...

Happy stuff, like the school assembly, and Lavender's premier as a back-up dancer for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox Robo-Dancers! Maria came to rehearsal, and got a handle on Lavenders control wand. Lavender actually enjoys having her buttons pushed.

More happy: Alex and Lonnie are going to Winter Formal.

(Okay. I debated on sharing that one. They hardly need me to be like Spaz-Mom getting all hyped up on over this rite of passage. I am resisting the urge to dig up Alex's baby book and show up at Lonnie's house, to regale her with all of his awesome qualities. Winter Formal is their story, and I am honestly trying to be cool and calm.)

I'm done. Honest. Alex, I am sorry if I have embarrassed you. Some day you will understand, and forgive me. Hopefully, it can be by tomorrow.

Another happy: Last night. (Except for Alex being too sick to move.) We all worked on Lavender, to get her home, and there was all the other, forgotten stuff we faced... and then finally, it was just me and the children, at home.

So, I made corn tortillas, and grilled chicken.

Then I prepared a salsa, and we had two perfectly ripened avocados, and really good beans. It was just one of those dinners... simple, delicious, and relaxed. I was so aware of how nice it felt to not have anywhere to go, anything to do... ah, relief.

And now it's Saturday, and we have places to go, and stuff to do. I'm good with that. Last night, and Homer time, and happy rites of passage, and bright yellow balloons, and dancing robots... they have recharged my batteries! Bring on the day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ripples and Waves

This seriously makes me giddy. For a long, long time I have wanted learn how to crochet a ripple, and at last this afghan that I started back in November, is getting really big, and it's also really comfy. I love it!

I love how the alternating blues are energetic, yet soothing... just like ocean waves. I love that when I am working on it, kitties are drawn to me, and I can hear them purring as they circle and move in for a cuddle.

I have gradually increased the width of the waves as I work down. I won't make them too much wider though, because I notice the effect of the ripple gets a bit lost in the wider bands.

Unfortunately, it's gotten almost too big. Too big to carry along and work on while I wait at dance class, or sit in the parking lot at pick-up from school time. Now it is strictly a sit in bed pastime, or listen to a movie activity, and with the company of those kitties, at least I am not lonesome. Maria too has been known to slip under the waves and purr softly to me, "It's so comfy mommy." Ah, that makes it a very good size. A little bigger, and we'll completely wrap ourselves in comfy.


Sticking with my resolve to hang things up in the new year, I thought I would give you an update on my hook hanging mission.

Okay, so the first day I attempted to hang hooks, I was utterly foiled.

Yup. It was crushing. I had all the skills I learned, and all the tools I thought I needed, but when confronted with the job at hand, I was stumped by...

... chucks, bits, drills, screws, and how to make one part fit into another. It seemed too simple to undo me, but I was indeed undone. Even my urgent call to Geoff yielded no answers. He was a bit "busy" at "work" where he goes everyday, for "work." Very inconvenient. So, day one was a bust.

This is the wall I wanted to tackle. This is both a guest bath, and the bathroom the boys use, so I am constantly in a battle process of teaching the guys to keep it gorgeous.

It seems systems of order must be simple. Simple is good. Simple helps. Simple means that a towel bar is silly, because it can barely hold two bath towels, it requires a higher level of folding-hanging ability than some people are willing to apply, and it just looks meh in our circumstances. Our we are too laid back and mellow to hang tidily folded towels circumstances.

Here is our new... wait!
Hold on a sec..
Let me just tidy up a bit, and...

And here is the new bathroom wall. At the far end, near the tub, is a convenient towel hook. Easy to grab a towel as the bather emerges from the shower.

The three flower hooks are for clean clothes they will be putting on. Now clean clothes don't have to hang out on the counter, or floor, or be stuffed over the old towel rack.

Ideally, the patrons of this fine establishment will recall that I ask them to take their towels to their closet, and hang them in there... the idea being that there will be no towel mix-ups, and the windowless bathroom will not be overcome by three humid towels. I think it will also help with the whole keep it gorgeous objective.

Ah, this is so theoretically marvelous, in my mind.

And okay, so it's not a decorating hoopla of refinement and aesthetic Marthaism, but it's better, I think. There is potential, room for art, and I feel a sense of contentment, because even if it is still meh, it is my very own, created meh. I am hooked.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Maria's FIRST Album

The greater (Greatest? Same difference)...

The greatest part of our weekend was spent with 2102 Team Paradox, at the Kick-Off. Two days of reading the ins and outs of this year's FIRST FRC Challenge: LogoMotion! Two days of brainstorming, designing, discussing, debating, and creating for the new robotics season.

You may have noticed, I write a lot about robotics, about F.I.R.S.T., and about 2102 Team Paradox. I write a lot about bright and inspiring students, who may or may not be exceptional, but are certainly incredibly gifted, and motivated to learn, teach, and share their spirit with the world. Their actions and attitudes are what motivate me to continue spreading the word about FIRST, and recognize student's abilities and interests in math, science, and art, business, programming. I want to encourage everyone to find a way to stand behind students everywhere, and say: How can I support you as you work to achieve your goals? Let me show you that you are first in my heart.

Having written about this a number of times, I wonder how I can share the story in a new way, in a fresh way? How can I convey, what for me is always fresh, always new, the significance of what is happening in these school clubs? Maybe, I should just trust that my words and spirited point of view will send out the message, will tell the story, will compel you to smile and feel good about the world.

Or, how about another point of view?

Maria loves robotics. She has an internalized passion about 2102 Team Paradox, and the students, mentors, teachers, and families that participate in the robotics club. I am not the kind of parent that thrusts my kids into a scene and expects them to put on a game face, so trust me: Maria's interest and devotion to team meetings, to robot design and build, to feeding students, and learning dances and cheers, and wearing team colors... all that stuff... She Wants It. She seeks it out, and takes a genuine interest in participating. Her energy for all of this probably exceeds a lot of member's.

All of these images are Maria's. With her friend Erika D.J., Maria spent the afternoon taking photos of friends and family, of cake slices too, and the designers, builders, artists, programmers, mothers, fathers, mentors, teachers, and siblings of 2102 Team Paradox. I adore these pictures. I love that I can see her point of view, and I love that when she looks in the lens she sees incredible friends, kindness, warmth, support, joy, industry, talent... looking back at her.

Thank you, Team Paradox. You give our family countless reasons to be happy, and to feel good, and you have made the youngest team member feel certain that she has a future with her team, in science, art, dance, photography, design, and build. (We hope we can keep up!)

**January 11, 2016**

Dean Kamen is fond of saying "It's not about the robots," and frankly I never appreciated this sentiment. I understood that he was saying FIRST is more than building a robot, but I was really into the robots. Today, being reminded of this day, of people dear to me, of what we've gained, and lost, I sincerely and emotionally agree... It's not about the robots. It's about the people, and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox has been, and still is, comprised of some of the best people.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Maybe I should tell you all about Logo~Motion, and 2102 Team Paradox's awesome kick-off event... but first, soup! Ramen and soup!

Isaac is home from home... that is, he is in town during his break from Berkley, and he came over to share his ramen skills with us. Lucky us!

Seriously... I love that he wanted to share his ramen recipe with us, not mention feed us. It turned into a fun night, and a good way to distract us from the crazy anticipation of the FIRST Launch.

Let's see if I can let the Droid handle the rest of this post...

Issac came prepared with soup already made. Max was eager to be Isaac's sous chef. (Five hours later: Forget Droid blogging. Back to the Mac.)

So Isaac made a vegetarian broth, and when he got here, he started preparing the dough for the noodles. Both Max and I were eager to learn and help, but I was really delighted to see how dedicated and diligent Max was about participating. Isaac is a good, patient teacher... no doubt skills he has perfected as a 2102 Team Paradox president.

Eli and James were here, and along with Alex they were seeing what needs to be done to upgrade and service Lavender. She had a few setbacks on the drive home, and needs some tuning. We figured with extra folks in the house, we should make plenty of ramen. Isaac carefully measured out flour, salt, and eggs in three bowls. Then Isaac, Max, and I started kneading.

And kneading.
And kneading.
And kneading.
And I probably should have kneaded even longer, because in the end the dough in my bowl was pretty gooey. Oops.

Timing the ramen, and heating the broth, getting the water ready to cook the ramen... Isaac was on top of all of these steps. Into the stock he added daikon radish, bok choy, and shitake mushrooms. The kitchen was smelling amazing.

Cutting ramen... requires a big cutting board and a big knife, both of which came from Isaac's home.

Max cut ramen too.

Isaac, you are dear to me, simply because you are an intelligent and good young man, and also because you are a wonderful role model to my children. We all admire and respect you. But you have endeared yourself to my youngest children, and as a parent, I am especially touched that they recognize you as a friend. Thank you.

Isaac fed us all, and himself last. Generous chef act of selflessness.

We each had our ramen and soup custom flavored with hot spices, and soy sauce. I need the name of the seasoning he used... it was hot and flavorful.

So. We had this delicious dinner, and the pleasure of sharing, and learning how to put it all together. And since then, we have had two really full days of robotics, where I took over six hundred photographs! I am so glad we were nourished, well fortified, for the launch of this new build season! Thank you Isaac!

Isaac, same plan for next year? We can put it on the calender!