Arctic Bocce

We didn’t let a little snow and frigid temperatures interfere with our Thanksgiving Bocce game. Grandpa Jeff got out the snow blower and made us a court. The teams:

  1. Griffin, Nik, Alli, Pam
  2. Maggie, Andrew, Sarah, Jeff

We played to 11, and it was close to the very end. In the final round, 10-9, team 2 landed the clinching point. They simply had superior mastery of snow-braking techniques.

On the Roy side, the bocce tradition began at a rental house in Fort Bragg, California, on the Mendocino coast. We used to rent the place for Thanksgiving in the early 2000s, inviting friends and family for feast and fun. Here are two pictures from that era (with a slightly different climate!):

2002 - bocce court with the house and hot tub in the background
2002 – bocce court with the house and hot tub in the background
2004 - bocce court with the Pacific
2004 – bocce court with the glorious Pacific

Fishy Relatives

Griffin, at dinner last night:

“How do people actually get made?
Like how did the first people get made?”

This was not a question about reproduction—we’ve had a few conversations about that—but more of an ontological question about how humanity came into being in the first place.

Sarah gave a masterful overview of evolution and we looked at pictures on Wikipedia of various stages of human evolution. Before losing interest in the details, Griffin got far enough to state, “So, we’re related to fish.”

Evolution of Man
Irrelevant cartoon on the subject.

Puffed Apple Pancake

Sarah investigated some breakfast options this morning that would make progress on our basket of aging apples. One of our favorite breakfasts is Pannukakku, so she chose something similar. It was delicious, the kids loved it, and it filled the house with the delectable scent of baking apples and cinnamon.


1/3 cup butter
2 large tart apples, cored and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
5 eggs
Powdered sugar, to serve

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the apples until they start to get soft, then add the sugar and cinnamon and cook until golden.

Whisk the flour with the salt and nutmeg. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly with a large wire whisk to beat out any lumps. Beat in the vanilla and the eggs one at a time. Beat by hand for 2 minutes, or until foamy. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes.

Pour the batter over the apples. Bake for 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden

Serve dusted with powdered sugar. Serves 4-6.

Recipe source.

A bit of powdered sugar completes it.
A bit of powdered sugar completes it.
A slice of yum!
A slice of yum!


Andrew on Ice

First lap, in reach of the wall.
First lap, in reach of the wall.

I’ve had a lingering paranoia since moving to Minnesota: what if I can’t skate? I skated as a kid, sure, but that was long ago. Now I’m older and stiffer and more fragile. I’ll probably fall immediately and break my wrist or my head. Today I banished this demon by slowly working my way around my school’s ice rink with the 8th graders zipping past. They were a supportive crowd.

Now I can’t wait to finally buy a pair of skates that fits. (There is only one pair at school, and I had to share them with a large-footed student.) I’m hopeful that Griffin will get comfortable on his skates this winter too, so this will be another winter activity we can enjoy together.

The video is hardly worth watching, but I was so ridiculously proud of myself that I thought I should preserve the moment.

Franconia Field Trip

It began with my August update about our summer family pilgrimage to the Franconia Sculpture Park. A friend and teaching colleague, Carrie Clark, saw the post and left this comment:

“Andrew, can’t we take the eighth grade there?”

I put Franconia on the agenda at one of our planning meetings in August and the 8th grade team was excited about the concept. Large scale sculptures provide an awesome array of interdisciplinary connections, fusing the social commentary and communication skills of  social studies and English with the engineering of math and science. (Indeed, right after the trip I sent an email to the entire grade resolving a lively debate at the park about the density of cement and thus how much a sculpture weighed). Moreover, the park ties into our newly hatched 8th grade design thinking program, with each sculpture representing the latest of a series of prototypes that the artists experimented with along the way. The playful and interactive nature of the park dovetails with our design focus on recreational spaces with our cardboard arcade and playground design projects.

Fitting the trip into our packed fall calendar was no mean feat, and our first try fell apart in September. Fortunately, however, we were able to get out  there on November 4, a beautiful, blustery fall day. (An arctic blast of snow and freezing wind arrived less than a week later, so we were lucky!)

The trip was a hit with both teachers and students. The artist-guides were engaging and knowledgeable.  There was a good mix of time spent on the official tour and free time to explore and climb and think. We didn’t bog things down with faux academic worksheets or other artificial baloney. (Despite this, multiple students, independently and unprompted, asked me for paper and a pencil so that they could jot down some design ideas for their work at school.) It felt, to me, exactly like what a field trip should be: students and teachers sharing an authentic experience of the world.

See below for a few pictures of the trip, taken by either me or my colleagues (some on phones, some on better cameras). Click on any image to see a larger slideshow.