Engineering Camp

Jack is a big fan of Mark Rober, the youtuber. He eagerly clicks and laughs through every new upload. For his birthday we enrolled him in Mark Rober’s Engineering camp for June. In the class he learned how to brainstorm solutions to problems and use real tools to build his inventions.

The first task was to build something mechanical to solve a food problem. Jack has struggled to cut apples, because the apple slips around he and he doesn’t think he has the strength. His solution was the Apple Annihilator.

The next project was fairly open-ended, to learn how to build and code using an Arduino kit. They just had to make something related to art. He struggled with this, partly because the task was so vague, and because his ideas were bigger than his tools and skills. We had to coach him back down to using the tools in the kit already, and aim for something simple. He ended up making a little music player. I think it turned out great! Some kids didn’t even finish a project in the allotted time.

The final build assignment was to use all these skills to build something that will help with habits. Jack already had in mind that he wanted to made a cat guard, to keep Nimbus from waking him in the early morning. We encouraged him, saying it was the cat’s “habit” that he was trying to fix ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t get a chance to take pictures, but Ben filmed his final video submission here.

Overall I think it was a great experience for him. It was a lot of work, and less instruction than I had hoped for. But he came out of it with three actual inventions, all made with his own hands! He has said that he is interested in robotics for a long time, and this was another step in the direction, to see if it is something he really wants to pursue.

Right now Jack is doing a two-week camp at his new middle school. He has Strings Orchestra camp first, where is he playing with other enthusiastic musicians and getting to know the great teacher he will have next year. After that he goes across the school campus to Vex IQ Robotics camp. This teacher also seems great. She is a lot of fun and very enthusiastic. She runs the Robotics club that Jack hopes to join next year. It’s limited in size and competes with other schools. I think the engineering camp, and his other experience with programming at home, are giving him great background knowledge on the subject.

Back to the Alamo

With both of us vaccinated, we indulged in a trip to the movie theater! We haven’t been on a movie date since we saw Emma on March 10, 2020. We used to go to the Alamo 2-3 times a month, so stopping was one of the major lifestyle changes we made for covid.

We got tickets to see Cruella. We picked seats in the far corner away from other ticket-holders, and chose a matinee in the hopes that crowds and maskless eating would be lower (popcorn munching squashed that hope). This was also exciting because it was the first time we used Jack as the babysitter for our movie date! Over the last year he has been doing many short babysitting jobs. Usually while we run a quick errand, or pick up our take-out meal. This time it felt so weird to just leave the kids for a movie! We paid him, of course, but it was so luxurious not to have to coordinate with a sitter. What new freedom!

When the pre-show and trailers ended and the “Feature Presentation” animation played, they had added “Welcome back” to the end. Ben and I looked at each other and giggled because we were both holding back tears. I didn’t expect to get so emotional!

The movie was gorgeous and silly. Both Emmas Thompson and Stone gave strong performances and were fun to watch.

We were still nervous to be in a theater with other people. Even at a well run establishment like the Alamo, it’s hard to relax. Plus, we missed having food. Dinner was always half the fun of going out! We decided to forgo food to keep our masks on the whole time, and it was sort of a bummer.

We want to see more movies, but it looks like they are no longer doing the auto-spacing of tickets, so capacity limits must be gone. We hope to see In the Heights later, when the initial rush is over and theaters are less crowded. As the vaccination rate continues to climb and the incidence rate continues to drop, maybe we will feel comfortable ordering food! I don’t know what we’re going to do about Black Widow. Tickets are already out and I don’t want to wait too long . . .

Grand Junction for Memorial Day

A quick trip to GJ was the perfect way to kick off the summer.

Jack’s 11th Birthday

Jack’s birthday started with presents. The big milestone this year was getting his own cell phone. Much responsibility and regulation were heaped with it, but he is very proud and has been a using it well ever since. He likes to text gifs to family members, so that’s been fun ๐Ÿ˜‰

With adults vaccinated, low incidence rates, and good evidence for outdoor safety, we were able to give Jack a real birthday party! He invited his three best friends from class for an afternoon of science fun.

First we tried Mentos and Diet Coke. It worked, but was a little underwhelming.

Then we took the kids out for fro-yo.

The kids were content to chatter away excitedly. Jack has some great friends: friendly, smart, and polite. I eventually interrupted to suggest we do our next science demonstration – Elephant Toothpaste.

It took a while to get everyone’s solutions mixed up properly. We experimented with different container shapes, different volumes, and different hydrogen peroxide strengths.

This time we got great results! The foam was bountiful and the colors were exciting. They really liked the warm foam, caused by the exothermic reaction. I spent a lot of time admonishing them from touching it too much, to test the heat first, and not get it on their skin. They mostly listened to me.

Our final activity was a giant tub of oobleck. I bought out the cornstarch supply from King Soopers and Target and let them dump all of it in a storage bin. It was a total hit. Somehow the kids managed to worry me with this one too – sinking their hands in deep and then yanking them hard enough to pop their joints. Of course, one of them had to go all in with her feet too.

Lastly the kids opened their goodie bags and had chocolate cake with strawberry frosting. I didn’t get any pictures of the cake but it was delicious (there’s a slice on the table in the pic above). The kids were meant to take home the weird Japanese candy kit that Ben found. But they wanted to build them together instead. I had to call parents to extend the party because they were having so much fun. I think the best part for Jack was getting to relax with his friends outside of school for the first time in over a year.

Roadrunner Speech

Jack’s teacher came through with his award speech. Now recorded here for all history, to show how wonderful my son it ๐Ÿ˜‰

(SOAR behavior is Safe, Outstanding, Accountable, and Respectful.)

Roadrunner of the Year

This year we would like to give an award called, Roadrunner of the Year. In order to receive this award students had to be nominated by their peers. Students were asked to think of a classmate who consistently demonstrates SOAR behavior all year long. I am proud to say many students were nominated and this year we have 2 Roadrunnerโ€™s of the Year. 

Our first award goes to a student whoโ€™s peers said the following: โ€œHe has always been a great person to me and everyone elseโ€ Another said, โ€œI would nominate this person because I look up to him and he always does the right thing even when nobody’s watching!โ€ or โ€œHe has shown SOAR behavior in ALL of his time here at Vanderhoof. He is loving, kind, and selfless.โ€ This 2020-2021 Roadrunner of the Year award goes to Jack Mason.ย 

5th Grade Continuation

Jack’s school held a Continuation ceremony for 5th graders. “Graduation” was never uttered, though it was clearly a graduation celebration. ๐Ÿ™‚

They sang the National Anthem, You Can Count on Me by Bruno Mars, and This is Me from The Greatest Showman. There were speeches from students, the principal, and a former NFL player who was an alum of Vanderhoof and currently the coach at the local high school.

Each student had their name called and they collected a certificate (to be traded for the “real” certificate in their goodie bag).

Jack was honored by winning “Roadrunner of the Year” (student of the year) as voted on by his class! We didn’t know that he would be given the award, so I was unprepared for filming. His teacher’s introduction was touching and had quotes from students that I wish I had been able to record. If she sends it to me I’ll post it here. Things like, what a good friend he is to everyone and how he always does the right thing, even when no one is watching.

He’s an easily embarrassed preteen who stalked up to receive his award so quickly I could barely film any of it! I convinced him to take some photos afterward (he already ripped off his tie and refused to put it back on).

We are so proud of him!

Family Zoo trip

The Waterhouses came over for a quick visit. We had a great time catching up and eating good food. It’s great that we are all fully vaccinated (aside from the kids). Apparently I only took pictures during our afternoon visit to the zoo. The animals were pretty active and we had lots of great treats.

Springtime in Colorado

Ben and the boys went to Grand Junction to visit grandparents. Both Betty and Susan have early April birthdays, so it works out perfectly to celebrate together during Spring Break. I didn’t go because I was scheduled for my second Moderna shot. I had a quiet and productive weekend of quilting and watching K-pop, and only mild illness after the second vaccine dose. I saw a few pictures from the trip and it looked like they were kept busy with hiking and playgrounds and other fun activities.

Here’s a mishmash of pictures.

This spring has been packed with snow storms. They even canceled school for two days! I thought this recent snowfall mid-April would be the last, but they are predicting another 3-5 inches Monday night. I’m so over it and ready for warm weather!

The cats try to bust out of the catio on warm days, and cuddle during the cold days.

In between snow storms we had a couple nice sunny Saturdays. We took the boys out for lunch and picnicked in different parks.

Easter came and went. The bunny brought small baskets and hid eggs in the yard. We didn’t even dye eggs. The hunt for eggs gets faster and more cutthroat every year. I made way too much ham, along with rolls, green beans, and deviled eggs for dinner.

Just one vaccine selfie this time, but it’s a good one – I gave Ben his second dose! In a few days we will both be at fully immunity. If only we could do the same for the kids ๐Ÿ™ It gives us peace of mind, even if our behavior stays mostly the same.

I started attending in-person zumba classes and it feels so good to be dancing again. My feet are killing me, but it’s good for my brain and my muscles. I’ve been doing tap and yoga at home still, but those can’t compare with an hour of cardio. It sucks to wear a mask and I get hotter than usual – and take fewer water breaks. But I love it and it’s worth it and I feel ok since everyone is masked and distanced and I’m vaccinated.

I’m still volunteering for vaccines. I have two shifts this week and continue to get frequent requests to work more often. I think the demand will stay through May at least.

We had some housework done, installing a new/safer dryer ventilation duct. Now I need to find someone to cover it with a soffit and repair the drywall. I’m also thinking about our bathroom that badly needs renovations, and the yard that could be landscaped so much better . . . there’s always so much you can do a house. Honestly, it’s not the money that puts me off home repairs, but the time and effort it takes to obtain workers and deal with their inevitable delays. I want to wait until at least this summer so we can have all the windows open and spend extra time outdoors while they work inside.

I’m working on a quilt but have lost interest in the project. I think I’m too busy lately. I started a new pair of socks (second pair of 2021 for me). It’s easy to pick up and put down. I hope to attend Days for Girls this week and get back into volunteering with them, after having stopped for covid. It’ll be great to put my new machine to work for them!

Our trivia team has been great. We’ve had the same crew for a few months now. We placed 2nd in March and this last week was came in first place! We beat my siblings and parents’ team by one point. Ben contributed a tricky video game music round that really shook up the typical standings. ๐Ÿ˜€

Yes, even more vaccines!

I’m still at it, helping spread vaccines as fast as possible. I’ve been volunteering either two half days or a full day every week. I hope you like selfies, because there’s not much else I can document while protecting patient privacy. This guy let me take his picture:

Yeah, this was awesome. We had a few spare doses at the end of the day and they asked if I knew anyone who could get there fast. You betcha! We were so happy Ben got a dose! We both thought it was sweet that I was able to give him the shot personally. What a strangely sentimental moment! I’m pleased that they scheduled me at that same clinic on the day Ben returns for his second dose.

After trying three different clinics I was done with juggling alcohol swabs, bandaids, and needles. A quick trip to the dollar store for baskets, a trip to the craft store for straps and fastener, a little sewing, and I had myself a drive thru vaccine belt.

It’s so great! I made two styles, and ended up preferring the larger basket. I refined it even further – I have an inner basket to keep the syringes separate, and a trash cup for wrappers that I can easily tip in the trash every few cars. You can see my larger basket in pics below. It’s gotten rave reviews from other vaccinators. I lend my second belt to other nurses and they always love it. I joke that I should make more and sell them. But I have enough going on ๐Ÿ˜‰

Everyone is so happy and cheerful to get their shots (unless they are scared of needles, but I get them laughing and smiling by the time I’m done). We often have people gift candy and cookies as thanks. The day below, someone brought a whole tray of hot breakfast burritos! Super delicious and appreciated in the cold garage (I ate it in my car during a break).

I returned to Kaiser for my second dose of Moderna last weekend. Even though I’m not planning to change my behavior, I’m counting down the days until I’m considered “Fully Vaccinated.”

Today I worked a full day at a new-to-me clinic. This was the largest so far, with 1,170 appointments. I keep a tally of how many vaccines I’ve given. Today’s 86 doses brings me to 344 shots.

This clinic was really nice – very organized and well staffed. I appreciated that they took more though to our safety and comfort than some other clinics, with safety vests, monitoring carbon monoxide levels in the garage, and snacks and PPE, anti-fatigue mats under our feet, and a chair to rest between cars. I’m definitely applying if they put out another request on CVM.

It was also cool to give the vaccine to teenagers. Colorado starting allowing the anyone 16+ (Pfizer) or 18+ (Moderna/Janssen) today. Since we had Pfizer, I gave the vaccine to three high schoolers. I told them I happy they made the choice and can be examples to their classmates. I can’t wait for the data that lets my kids get it too.

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