Odyssey of the Mind

Quinn\’s Odyssey team won their division in the regional competition!  Such a huge accomplishment for Quinn and his team.   Now they go on to the State Competition on March 24.
But to back track….

Earlier this year Quinn\’s buddy Dan convinced him to join the 4th grade Odyssey of the Mind team.  Don and I were adamantly against it because Quinn\’s plate was already full.    But Quinn persisted and we relented.

So glad we did.
Odyssey of the Mind is a creative, problem solving competition.  The kids are given a problem and they work for months on creating a solution.  The kids must do everything themselves — parental assistance is not welcome!!  The coach is there to guide them, make sure they meet all the requirements, and also make sure they don\’t lose any appendages in the process but the coaches can not do any of the work.  It\’s a huge time commitment for the coach.  
Each team selects one problem from a choice of 5 and this is the problem Quinn\’s team chose:

Problem 5: A Stellar Hangout
Divisions I, II, III & IV
In the outreaches of the universe, there is an Intergalactic Hangout where all sorts of creatures from different worlds stop, eat, refuel, and relax. Teams will create a humorous performance centered on this science fiction hangout that includes original creatures, foods, and a search for space treasure. There will also be a worker character, entertainment, and a futuristic map at the hangout.

It probably still doesn\’t make sense, I know.  (Division I is grades 3 – 5, Division II grades 6 – 8, etc, etc.)  
The team meets at least twice a week to work on building the set, creating costumes, writing the script, problem solving, etc, etc.  They also have a bare bones budget so they must use alot of recycled and donated products and make their own creations.
Saturday was the Odyssey Regional competition for the LA Basin.  We were lucky it was held at our local high school.      We get there at 8 am and stay all day.  
Each team participates in 2 events.  They have their \”long program\” where they have 8 minutes to present their solution to the problem and they also do Sponts (short for sponaneous).  In Sponts they are given an on-the-spot problem and they have 3 minutes to come up with a solution.  
We have been asked not to post any pictures from the Long Program and only kids are allowed in for the Sponts.  
Here the most awesome Coach Juli is playing follow the leader with the kids before sponts to work off the nerves.  

As the judges score the Long Program, they make little post it notes with positive feedback.  Coach Juli was pleasantly surprised to see so many post it notes and read them off to the kids.

The kids and Coach Juli.  The competition was at Westlake High School.

What a great bunch of kids.  So supportive and encouraging of each other.  They all bring something special to the team.

Waiting for the awards ceremony.  Dan and Quinn were feeling nervous.

There were 11 teams just from Lang Ranch Elementary School.  Here they are doing their School Spirit chant.

Quinn\’s coach and team were beyond shocked and happy to take the #1 spot.  Tears of joy!

Such an amazing achievement for these kids.   There were 23 teams competing in their division.

Presidents Day Weekend the team probably spent 15 hours over the course of the weekend working together.  At the end of the weekend I asked Quinn how he felt about Odyssey and he said he LOVED IT!

Hayden\’s sister also competed so Hayden was there to cheer her on.  Unfortunately her team didn\’t place but their performance was really creative and funny.

The dude that got Quinn into Odyssey.  Still sticking together.

Proud is not a big enough word to say how we feel at this moment.

This Week

This is no fun.  Quinn started wearing his head gear.  We are starting slowly and working up to 12 hours a day, mostly at night.  

This is fun.  Hanging out after school watching the boys play. 

Dog sitting little Lincoln. 

Say Cheese

I can cook but presentation isn\’t my thing.  I like it to look clean and neat but I don\’t really go all out.  But thanks to FaceBook moms group and Trader Joes I made this awesome looking cheese plate for our party the other night.  Success!

Party People

We had our first party and not sure what took us so long.  My friend Kriti and her family are moving to Toronto so we needed to give them a proper send off.   Kriti\’s husband Vineet loves chips and guacamole so we decided to a SoCal taco party with fish tacos, carnitas, and the works.  It was fun! 

The lovely ladies — Angela, Roz, Kriti, Amy, and Amy.  I am going to miss Kriti.  She has become a really great friend. 

The boys, post swim.  There was some sort of video game drama going on and Quinn wasn\’t so happy.  Vivaan, Ryan, Hayden and Quinn

First Band Concert

Quinn has been participating in the band for 4 months and he loves it.  Today the band had their first concert!
On the way to school Quinn said \”We all have an important part to play in the band but as a group we shine\”.  I love it.  
The band performed for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at an assembly as a little warm up.  

I recorded a couple of songs during the day.  This was the last song they played — \”Go Big Blue!\”. 

Go Big Blue from amy white on Vimeo.

For the evening performance they had to wear black pants, white shirt, and tie optional.  Quinn has never worn a tie so we thought it would be a good time to wear one.  Orange — our family color!  
Look at this handsomeness!

The band director highlighted each group.  Love the sax players raising their instruments!  Quinn claims to have started this trend. 

The big finale!

The band director Ms. Janine.   She is so fun and full of energy with the kids.  And she had some great advice to stick with your band friends as you go through middle and high school.  Some of your friends will change but your bandmates will be there for you. 

I\’m sure this was the first of many.  Quinn is really enthusiastic about his sax and the band so we will continue to encourage and support him. 

WinterWonderland in Sundance

Going to Thailand with MeRa & Brian was one of the best experiences of my life and I wanted more!  I tentatively asked Don and Quinn what they thought of me going to Utah for a long photography weekend and Quinn gave an enthusiastic YES! to ManTown.  
So off I went.  And, my 3 gal-pals from Thailand joined in on the fun.  Sue is driving, Karen is behind Sue, and my new friend Olena in the front seat.  Leaving Salt Lake City airport on our way to Sundance.  
We arrived Friday night and we all stayed in very large house.  Friday night was a getting to know you around the fire.  
Saturday morning we woke up and went on a WinterWonderland walk.  It was gorgeous!

MeRa and Olena. 

A gaggle of photographers.  There were 13 participants plus MeRa, Brian and their 2 kids. 

Karen and Teresa.  It\’s so much fun to be around like-minded, photography crazy ladies.  There is always someone to take your picture. 

 It\’s fun to get a \”starburst\” from the sun and takes a little bit of technical and creative knowhow. 

Teresa was also on our Thailand trip.  Our camera duel with the most serious face we can muster. 

This is my favorite picture from the weekend.   I walked by these two and the light was so amazing that I sunk into the snow and started shooting.  This is a fellow participant Lynda and MeRa\’s daughter Pascaline (in blue) giving Lynda some tips. 

The gang. 

Photographers have alot of stuff to charge.

Saturday afternoon we all rented snowshoes at this little yurt and went on an adventure.

We were on a snoeshoeing trail but there were also lots of cross country ski trails. 

There were quite a few hills.  This picture doesn\’t show how steep this hill was but the hands on the hips might be an indication.

Once we got to our destination, Brian and MeRa whipped out hot chocolate & marshmallows, cheese, crackers, salami.  It was the best picnic ever!!



We stayed put for a good hour or more and just photographed the world around us.  I love this one. 

The aspen grove with a path leading to….

 Black & White Aspens.

Self Portrait on the timer. 

The next morning we got up at sunrise to shoot this barn.  You never know what you might get with sunrise but I love these. 

The sky changed color as the sun rose and shone on the distant mountains. 

Mother-daughter shoot off!

This is how we roll. 

Me and Sue!   It was really cold at 7 am!

Here we are in Bangkok on a tuk tuk in November. 

Then it was back to the house.  A look down on the common area.  So cozy!

John & Jenny were there to help Brian & MeRa.  They made all the meals, did the dishes, cleaned up.  We were very spoiled.   

And then it was time to go.  I love spending time with these two.   I learn so much about photography, myself, and have made the most wonderful friends.  We are already talking about our next adventure.