Saturday, March 22, 2014

Faith is Eight

Last weekend was fun.  I mean serious, one-for-the-books, forget-any-problems-you've got, FUN.  Between Bethany's birthday party and Clark's robotics competition we played really hard.
And then Monday morning came and it was U-G-L-Y.  I do not wish to go into details.  Suffice it to say the children believed one fun weekend meant the end of work and school work forever, and I had some new and vile pregnancy hormones coursing through my veins making me completely emotionally unstable.  NOT A GOOD WEEK.  I actually frightened Abraham.  Not pretty, but the truth.
 I'm sorry, I just felt I needed to get that out there.  Now, before the week-which-shall-not-be-mentioned-again happened, there were some happy events I want to remember.  Here was a favorite moment when George's new Sunbeams teachers paid him a visit.  
He had missed Primary to go to a cousin's baby blessing so they came to share the lesson with him.  I'm afraid in this picture he is trying to teach her a thing or two.  But he was tickled to have them come visit him.
Bethany had an orchestra concert.  It was Concerto Night and Bethany was part of a small group that was accompanied by the rest of the orchestra.  I do so love to hear her play.
And here is something really fun.  It's Faith's birthday!  We never went and saw Frozen in the theaters and we were planning a trip to the dollar theater to see it for her birthday.  But sadly, it never came to the dollar theater.  Our birthday plans were thwarted.  Thankfully, the movie came to DVD just in time and our good friends have a theater in their basement, so we got to watch it in a theater after all. 
Last night was finally the night.  Now they can no longer say they are the "only ones who haven't seen Frozen".
And today Faith opened her birthday presents-- Because she's now 8 she got her very own set of scriptures with her name on them.  When she opened them Clark was very disturbed to see she got scriptures.  He said, "Wait, why is Faith getting her own scriptures?"
We reminded him that she was now eight and everybody in the family has gotten scriptures when they turn eight.
"Yeah, but I was a lot older than her when I turned eight!  That is just wrong.  She looks like she's six!"

And it's kind of true.  She does still seem very young and still has her front baby teeth.  But the calendar confirms that she has, in fact, reached the age of accountability and is eight years old.
This was an adorable moment when she got a new bike for the first time in her life.  The life of a youngest sister in a line-up of three sisters consists of a lot of hand-me-downs.  I don't mind it, and Faith doesn't seem to either, but it does make it extra special when you get something brand new all to yourself.
She took right to her new wheels and was zipping all around.
Happy 8th birthday, Faith!  We're so excited for your baptism in a few weeks.  We love you!
As part of Bethany's birthday last week, her Beehives class came and decorated our door with birthday hearts.  She loved it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Robot is Tougher than Your Robot

This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday was the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Utah Regional Championship.  FIRST is an acronym for For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.  It is an ever-growing organization with several different age divisions that makes science and technology not only very cool, but very fun.
Clark, Elinor, and even Faith have been involved to varying degrees for several years and Clark was so fortunate to be a part of the very first Utah championship FIRST Lego League team that went to the World competition in St. Louis three years ago.

Those boys have grown up a few years and were ready to take on the high school level competition of building much bigger robots and competing in a game that changes every year.  This year it was called "Aerial Assist".  Here's the playing field.

Here is our robot (3230) in action, mid-game.  Here's a brief run-down on how the game works.  There are two teams, each consisting of an alliance of three robots.  So six robots on the field at a time.  For the 12 qualification matches the alliances were randomly assigned.  Your team tries to score points by shooting into goals or over the center truss of the field or pushing the ball into a goal in the corners on the ground.  Meanwhile, each team is defending against the other team scoring.   Think of a brutal sporting event for robots.  There was a lot of contact.  Occasionally a robot would get knocked over or parts broken during a match.
Between matches the robots were transported back to the "pits" for tune-ups and repairs.  You might notice that sometimes our robot is red and sometimes blue.  The bumpers were changeable depending what color our alliance was for a match.
The atmosphere at a FIRST event is very exciting-- much like a sporting event.  Many of the teams have mascots.  Most teams were upwards of 30 people while ours was amongst the smallest-- only about 12.
There is a lot of pin collecting from the different teams.  Anyone can wander through the pits- providing you have your safety goggles on-- and talk to team members.
Little brothers visiting the big brothers' robot.  They loved the "pits".
There is a large area on the floor in front of the playing field that was usually filled with kids dancing in between matches.  There is always fun music playing.
For those not busy with robots, it is prime time for visiting with friends.
Camille and I did our best to keep track of and entertain little ones.  Her husband, Keith is the team's coach.  It is a major commitment and he has done a marvelous job, earning the respect of all the boys.
Andrea and I have had a lot of good times sitting through hours and hours of robotics competitions over the years.  Good times.
Eventually all the excitement was too much for George and he succumbed to a little happy nappy.
We went for a little while on Friday, but the whole family was there all day on Saturday.  The qualification matches ended around noon on Saturday and they were very enjoyable.  Of the twelve matches we played, we were 9-3 and ranked 6th out of 48 teams.  This was great positioning coming out of qualifications because that's when things got really fun.
The top 8 teams had a representative come out onto the field for what was basically a draft.  Starting with the top team they chose their alliances for the final rounds.  There was a lot of politicking back in the pits and a lot of statistical calculating to figure out what your best alliance would be and if those teams want to be with you.
Finally our team was situated and it was onto the quarterfinals.  Each round was best 2 out of 3 in 2 1/2 minute rounds.  We won and it was onto the semifinal.  Unfortunately our chances didn't look good as we were up against an alliance consisting of the two top ranked teams, plus one other.  We were cheering like crazy.  I cannot remember any sporting event ever where I got that excited.
Unbelievably, we won the semifinal match and were headed to the finals!
Here is our alliance shaking hands with their alliance just before the finals.
Well, we didn't win the finals.  That wasn't to be our ticket to St. Louis for the FRC World Championship in April.  But that was okay because we thought we had a pretty good chance to win a very prestigious award called the Chairman's Award for the team that best embodies the values of FIRST.  Our team had done a lot of volunteer work in the community to foster interest in engineering and STEM related fields.
But then just before that award was given out our team won one named "Engineering Inspiration".  Oh, well.  No St. Louis.  At least we won something.

But then to our surprise our team leader, Adrianne, informed us that not only did this award include an invite to St. Louis, but it paid our team's very pricey registration fee as well.  This award might not have been as prestigious as the Chairman's Award, but this was the only one with a grant attached to it.  It was like the Chairman's Award with teeth!
So, HOORAY! We're going to St. Louis afterall!
The team with coaches and mentors.  The team name is PrototypeX-- thus the X arm signal.
Here is a picture with our other two alliance teams.  On the left is the Waterford team, which is where Abe's nieces go to school.
We were quite thrilled with the day and the season, but it was such a celebration when we all realized what the award meant. 
 There was a team ice cream party that evening so the revelry could continue.  I think Clark just liked the safety goggles too much to let them go.
It was a magical, fun, exciting day.  What great memories for Clark and for our whole family to be there cheering.  I've mentioned before how our kids are always members of chronically losing athletic teams.  It has become a family joke.  I won't feel too bad about that, because they seem to end up on very winning robotics teams.  I'll take it!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Trashy Project Runway

Bethany turned 13 this weekend and Friday night had a gaggle of girlfriends over for a "Trashy Project Runway" party.  After months of trying to decide what to do for her bi-annual birthday party with friends, we finally came upon a design party using duct tape, newspapers, garbage bags, aluminum foil, etc. 
They were a charming, fun, creative, lovely group of young ladies.  Once everyone arrived they headed inside for their first challenge.
You can't see them very well, because they are slightly embarrassed to each be holding an unclad Barbie doll recently purchased from the D.I.    Their challenge was to design a look for it.
It was fun to see who were the detailed planners and who were the free-spirited designers.
This was a very focused, creative table of young ladies.
This table was a little more chatty.
I wish I'd taken close up pictures of their designs because they were really quite ingenious and adorable.
George was so pleased and charmed by the ladies.
For the next challenge the girls were randomly assigned to five teams of three girls.  They were to have two girls be the designers and create a look for their model-- the third girl.  Once again, their materials were a table full of duct tape, newspapers, garbage bags and such.
They got right to work.
 The dress was entitled, "The Peacock".  Impressively, it had a removable train.
Emma, Bethany, and Rylee were a great team.
This group had a lot of fun.
They really got into the spirit of the challenge.
Their look was  "Indian, Football Player, Hippie".   Asia, Millie, and Maddie.

This was the quietest and most top secret group.  We didn't  have any inkling of their design until it was completed.
We thought it was a flapper look, but they said it just happened.  This group was Mikayla, Erin, and Haylie (not pictured).
It took this group a little while to decide what direction to go.
They called their look, "The Jetsons".  I especially like the fashionable footwear.
Raven, Elinor, and Robyn.
All of the groups did a fabulous job, but this team went above and beyond any expectations I had for the evening.
They were seriously focused on their work.
Down to the matching strappy sandals and hair bow, this outfit had it all.  
We should have taken more pictures from more angles.  It was Corrine, Faith, and Emily.
What talented young ladies.
It was great fun to watch them in action.
Happy 13th birthday, Bethany!  You are kind, thoughtful, nurturing, creative, and great fun.  We love you!!