Riding bikes in the Thanksgiving parade downtown

Joseph and Josh take a selfie on Market Street with the Arch in the background, just before the BWorks group began riding in the parade.

About a year and a half year ago, Joseph earned a new bike through the BWorks program in St. Louis. Since then, he and I have enjoyed a number of biking adventures through BWorks’ alumni rides, including riding the Riverfront Trail, and then canoeing back downtown.

But this November, BWorks sent us a very unexpected last-minute invitation: Did we want to ride our bikes in the Thanksgiving parade downtown?

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Joseph joins marching band

The STEAM Academy middle school marching band

Joseph (who just turned 13 last month) marched with the STEAM Academy Middle School’s band in the Valley of Flowers parade! He began playing clarinet last fall, and we’ve been so impressed with his progress.

This was a new experience for everyone — Joseph, us, even the school.

STEAM was one of the last groups in the parade, and I was stationed near the end of the route, so it took a LOT of waiting to see him. Once he came past, I shot some video, then kept sprinting ahead to try to get photos. After doing that several times, I started getting the stinkeye from the kids.

Joseph plays his clarinet as he marches with the STEAM Academy middle school marching band

The temperatures reached 93°, which is pretty hot for early May. Joseph later said that the parade experience helped him learn “that cold water was 1,000,000× more valuable than gold.”

Watch this short video of Joseph and the band:

The mystery of the missing clarinet

Joseph plays his clarinet on Thanksgiving for a school assignment.

Last fall, Joseph began playing clarinet with the STEAM Middle School band. This was a new instrument for Joseph, and for our family. We accepted an offer from Mary Ann, a friend at church, to use her daughter’s old clarinet, a beautiful old Buffet Crampon model made in France.

To our delight, Joseph has learned very quickly, making enormous progress since the fall. We enjoy hearing him practice, and it’s been fun to see him in the fall and spring concerts.

But disaster struck on a recent Thursday.

When Joseph and Josie came home on a recent Thursday, Joseph didn’t have his clarinet.

Yoli was certain she had seen him leave the house with it early that morning. Joseph, meanwhile, insisted he didn’t have the clarinet with him when he walked into STEAM Middle that morning.

A thorough search of our house didn’t turn up anything. When Yoli checked with the bus driver, she hadn’t found it. Nor was it in the school’s lost-and-found.

We began to feel desperate. Joseph needed to practice for his spring concert, which was just days away, and would count for a grade.

It was time to go full-on Inspector Morse … or Lynley … or Foyle … or Miss Scarlet. (We watch a lot of British inspectors)

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Joseph earns a bike

Joseph’s final BWorks class, where he earned a new bike.

In June, Joseph earned a new bike through the BWorks program. Joseph tells the story:

At BWorks, we learned the parts of the bike and how to change tires. I decorated my bike helmet.

One time we did a slow race where the slowest person wins, but you can’t let your feet touch the ground.

We got pick out bikes. The green one was already taken, so I picked a blue one. It didn’t have a kickstand, which made my life harder until they installed one for me.

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Joseph gets a new bedroom

This panoramic photo shows the results of the first of framing.

This year, we constructed a new room in the basement for Joseph to move into, giving each of the kids their own room. It was a long road to get here.

Joseph tells the rest of the story:

I have a new bedroom. It’s in the basement, so the ceiling is low.

It all started with the sounds of drilling in the night. There were builders at our house! I went downstairs and there was a bunch of wood studs instead of our old TV room.

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Back to Beaumont

Joseph returned to the Beaumont Scout Reservation in August and September for the Cub Scouts’ Shoot-O-Ree and Cub Launch events. Joseph was at Cub Launch last year, but this was his first Shoot-O-Ree.

They had all sorts of things for the Cub Scouts to shoot: catapults, BB guns, slinghots, bows and arrows, Nerf guns and more. Joseph enjoyed trying it all.

At Cub Launch, of course Joseph wanted to shoot the BB guns again. But he also spent a lot of time playing at Fort Hussman, and playing on the Pirate Ship. He’s really been into “Master and Commander”, the British Navy, and the American Revolution lately, so he was running around yelling nautical terms like “Make sail!”

He even found a few kids who were willing to be led. One of them said “I brought you a chair, mister.” Joseph responded: “Don’t call me mister. Call me ‘sir’!”

Pinewood Derby 2018

Joseph receives his trophy.

This year marked Joseph’s second Pinewood Derby.

This year his den leader, Ms. Retha, arranged for all the kids to get their wood blocks sawn by a pro. So that left he and I to do the sanding, painting, weighting, etc.

The derby was held at the Gateway auto sales complex at I-270 and McDonnell Blvd. After last year, we made sure to bring some Tin Tin books to keep Joseph occupied during down times of waiting.

Joseph managed to win 3rd place among all the Wolves. That meant he got a trophy, and he was very happy about that!

Beginning baseball

Joseph, after playing a baseball game for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Editor’s note: Joseph played on his first baseball team this summer, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, which is located at the end of our street. My dad went to school there long ago when it was called Sts. John and James. Anyway, Joseph shares his memories of his first baseball season:

It was my first time being on a baseball team. My coach’s name was coach Cliff.

When the team is in the field, there’s only one person who wears a helmet when you’re in the little league, and that’s the pitcher. There are two pitchers: the first one is the coach who throws a baseball. The other one is a kid player and he wears a helmet. I normally wasn’t pitcher, but a few times I did get to be pitcher. Once my dad thought that I was going to be batting when I was pitcher because I was wearing a helmet.

I did not have a favorite position. However, I did a least favorite position: shortstop. Because I’m not short and I don’t like stopping!

I wasn’t so good at batting [but he got better!].

I learned in baseball that when you’re throwing a ball, you throw it to first base and you always take a step with the opposite foot from your throwing hand. So, if you’re throwing with your right hand, you step with your left foot.