Friday, February 17, 2017

Fall 2016: Back to School, Creativity, Music, Halloween, Science Fair and Robots

Let's see ... I better get my 2016 photos finished up and move on! Here we go:

I love the morning photos of the boys going to school. Here they are on the first day, Sebby looking quite tired for first grade, and Misha looking confident in 5th.

At parent night, Sebby was quite excited about his classroom with its cute book corner.

Morning back-pack-wearing going-to-the-bus collage:

Sebby's self portrait! I just love it in all of its glory. I was so relieved it wasn't a portrait of me.

The 3D castle puzzle lives again!

We also lucked into another free Houston Symphony concert. Great stuff!

Kid Talk:

I think I have already mentioned how I love the paper-and-pencil games Misha and Sebby come up with. They sit for hours, drawing plants sprouting, roots growing, ants digging, playing a game they invented about evolution or other worlds or anything they can think of. I like to take photos of their drawings and eavesdrop on their conversation.
Sebby: Are the worms going to mate yet?
Misha: My tree sprouted for six!

Sebby has gotten into writing as well, bound and determined to keep up with Misha. One day Sebby asked me, "How do you spell dexterity?" I glanced down at his paper and saw that he had written "DORF" across the top.

Sebby has some very amusing qualities. Very regularly, when we fold laundry, he gets distracted and ends up dressing himself in the item he is supposed to be folding, especially socks. This happens multiple times, and he ends up exclaiming, "Darn it, I did it again!" as he peels off the item. He is also adorably clumsy. Sebby had been sitting on the bench at the table when I heard a clunk and looked over. In Sebby's words, "The bench fell over and landed on top of me!"

While skateboarding on his rip board (see below), Misha made an interesting analogy. "When you go fast, it feels just like you're riding on a broomstick!" When I asked for further details, he said it was just like the view you see in the Harry Potter movies when he's playing Quidditch and the world is rushing by.

Misha has an acute sense of environmental protection which reminds me of Tanya and me when we were young. "We're the smartest species, but we're the worst species," said Misha sadly one day.

An example of Sebby's budding writing skills.

Geez, he could be a commercial for nutrition, right?

Misha and I continue our various dragon projects.

Ah, the rip boards. 
These were a great idea, or at least very, very close to a great idea. The boards have two wheels only, so they're somewhat like a snowboard and you merely twist your body to gain momentum rather than pushing with your feet. The boys learned how to ride extremely quickly (it's doable on your first day, although grace comes later) and then proceeded to maneuver down curbs and driveways, up small bumps, and in figure-eights. I love them because they're so much more portable than a bike and the kids can keep up with me if I walk at a brisk pace. And sometimes they let me ride as well! The only negative is that we got slightly carried away and went to skate park, where Josh managed to fracture his fibula and sprain his knee. 


This bike trail by our house quickly degenerated into a challenging course for our rip boards, but it was still fun. We did plenty of turtle watching too.

We finally got Sebby his own little violin. He's not always wearing that bright smile when he plays, but we're working on it!

Park time with Bud.

Misha's Australian Dream Time style artwork was chosen for display at the Imagination Celebration this year. They had art stations and an instrument petting zoo, where Sebby tried out the trombone.

Halloween! This year, I made Misha a bat costume by adding wings and ears to a hoodie. He looked super cute.

Sebby was a little dancing skeleton. He carried a flashlight with him to refresh his glow-in-the-dark shirt.

And I was an elf. Not sure where my pointy ears are ... probably in S.D.

This year, Misha participated in Science Fair. After reading lots of uninspiring ideas online, we didn't choose any of them and instead remembered Tanya's compost pile which included coffee grounds. We decided to grow kidney beans (a plant that likes acidic soil) in three pots: one with just soil, one with used coffee grounds mixed in, and one with diluted coffee poured over it periodically. After weeks of dedicated measuring and recording, Misha discovered that the coffee grounds worked best. Pretty cool.

Another activity that Misha participated in this year is Robotics Club, something he's been dying to do for quite some time. After their weekly meetings of building their team's robots with Vex IQ, they got to compete with other schools at the end of the first semester.


Misha is quick to do trouble-shooting every time the robot needs maintenance. This course was set up for team practice sessions before going into competition.

This is the robot Misha's team built. It can raise its forklift appendage.

Teams work together to earn the maximum points they can in one minute, by moving the colored balls to the opposite sides, with more points the higher the balls are placed. The biggest point-maker, though, is to coordinate both robots to balance together on the bridge (I think it was 50 points) - an infrequent achievement in that time frame. It was exciting for the first 10 matches, ... and then not quite as exciting for the next 140. Misha had a great time hanging out with his team, watching the matches, and jumping in to control the robot when it was his turn.

An exciting moment starring Misha!