Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Snapology Giveaway-- Comment to Enter!

When I pick up Cooper from preschool, his teachers regale me with the things he built that morning.  In fact, they talk about his houses and ramps and castles and decks (DECKS?) so much that I went to parent-teacher conferences armed with only one question: Does Cooper do anything at school besides build stuff?  

Yes, actually.  He talks to his friends about building stuff, collaborates reluctantly with other builders and also plays math games. His teachers say we have a little engineer on our hands.  Which, what?  I have a PhD in the humanities for goodness sake.  Ben had to watch a YouTube video to change a vacuum belt.  (But he did it!)  We hired a handy man to install a light fixture.  I could go on and on and on.  

Luckily, Coop has a LEGO-obsessed older brother who is more than happy to spend an entire rainy Sunday assembling a LEGO city, and my parents bought him a million magna tiles for Chrismukkah a couple years back.  And Ben is a fabulous LEGO builder himself-- when Harry was Cooper's age they did the Hogwarts castle set and then creepily put it in a Tupperware so no one could touch it ever. But how cool would it be if there was someplace he could do build in a more structured way?  Someplace like, a place that combines kids' natural love of building with STEM/STEAM principles. They have classes, camps, parents' nights out, and even birthday parties.  I wish we had a Snapology franchise in our little corner of Wisconsin.  Maybe someone who is reading this post will decide to open one?  Snapology uses LEGO bricks as well as K'Nex and is appropriate for kids ages 1-14.  Sounds like a kiddo dream come true.

I know building-obsessed Cooper would love it!  

I am partnering with Nakturnal today to offer a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot Sebastian Gator for a commenter below. To win, all you have to do is comment. Note that the recommended age for the LEGO set is 6 and up.
To win this cool LEGO set for you own little builder, all you have to do is comment to enter the drawing. Tell me how you support your kid's love of building/ incorporate STEM into your own parenting repertoire.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I am just an angry little stressed out ball of stress-- but there's a giveaway on the way tomorrow

Just when I thought I couldn't be any more stressed about getting all of y work done before we go away for a long weekend (I KNOW), I remembered that I had to chaperone a fifth grade field trip on campus today.  And by remembered, I mean that Harry's lovely teacher emailed to remind me.

And I lost most of my day yesterday to technological things that next time I will outsource because I SUCK at them.  More on those later because even though they need the help of a professional designer, I am going to show them to you. Soonish.

You know who's NOT stressed?

These kids learning about college.
 They got pick out heir own food in a dorm cafeteria and walk around campus with the help of an amazingly perky (like, perky without being even a little annoying) tour guide.  And they asked really sweet questions like do you get in trouble in college and what happens if you make it through high school.  Can you go to any college?  That one broke my heart a little and made me realize for the millionth time that there are many different ways to experience this town and I should not take my enormous privilege for granted.

They also got to roll down a big hill, so that was cool.
 Also not stressed?  The kid who is happy to be home with her dad making this terrific mess in awesome shoes.

Oh!  Also!  I have a sponsored post and a cute little giveaway tomorrow, so tune in-- especially if you or someone you love likes to build things with LEGO bricks.

Monday, March 27, 2017


I think if we had taken the kind of spring break that my friends with older kids are taking, it would be even harder to re-enter the daily grind because we would be thinking of white sand beaches, turquoise water, and umbrella drinks.  Since our spring break was more field trip than vacation, it;s not like we're suddenly slaving away after a spa-like week.

But still.

I haven't done laundry or made meals or cleaned up messes for a week, so the minutia of our daily lives feels overwhelming.  Also! I am overwhelmed by work and writing assignments and rec letters and the grading always the grading to the point that my to-do list gives me hives.

So I made cookies!  And then we ate them all really fast.  So I made more cookies!

 This KILLED me-- Coop left the maid service sign on his door yesterday.
 I am eating like a crazy fat giant again, and there's no excuse!  I made myself a huge tupperware of ready-to-eat veggies!  Doing the Whole30 again on April 3.
He wore his souvenir hat to school today because OF COURSE HE DID.  Also he was looking for a button-down, and he tried on all of his size smalls, coming upstairs every time to ask me how they looked (all were too tight and too shirt).  Finally, I broke the news that he's an "M," which made the whole shirt finding process go more smoothly.  In related news, Cooper got like 10 new shirts this morning.

THE LAUNDRY IS DONE!  Now excuse me while I tackle the grading.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring break days 5-7

I mean, I don't want to bury the lede, so I am just going to tell you, WE STOPPED AT OXFORD ON THE WAY HOME AND HAD BAGEL AND DELI AND IT WAS MAGICAL.  But first, I have like more days of DC to tell you about.  
Thank to Blogger, though, my photos uploaded in a way that leaves me scrambling for narrative form.

We ran out of the food we brought from home and were feeding the kids for breakfast, so we took them someplace fancy on Wednesday morning.

Last time, though, I told you there would be Pandas, and, indeed.

We started our day super early at the National Zoo, and it was fab.  We LOVED the zoo.


 This right here?  He was the Beatrix of pandas.  My favorite, obvs.

We could have stood by the pandas all day.
Especially the Beatrix panda.
 And especially me because as Ben captured, I am a TOTAL GOOBER.

Harry took the very best panda pic:
It is currently his phone home screen photo-- he changed that pic about 64 times during our trip, but he thinks this one is here to stay.

 It was chilly, but also completely gorgeous, which is kind of my favorite weather.
And also, these guys matched.

 They were trying to be as strong as an elephant.
 Speaking of elephants, we were standing by them, but Cooper only got us in the shot.
Behind the scenes:

Cooper spent a lot of the trip working on his photo skillz

Like the rest of the trip, Dorothy;s favorite thing was something she could actually do and play with, in this case prairie dog tunnels which were actually a vast kingdom over which she presided:

 Photobomb by Jack, his specialty.
 She was excited to see elephants, but not excited enough to get out of her stroller.
 Naked mole rats got her out of her ride.
 Dorothy steeled herself for a ride on the carousel-- merry-go-rounds, or, as she calls them, meggery rounds, scare her.
 Not Jack, though.

When she got off the ride, she told me she was impressed with her own bravery.

 Ben said when he was a kid he saw orangutans on these ropes high above the sidewalks, and I was only half listening and was like oh, cool.  And then he made fun of me and was like you moron, they couldn't be up there because nothing could keep then contained.  I was like oh whatever, I never listen to you.  AND THEN WE SAW THIS!
 So Ben was trying to make a joke, but he was right.  AS USUAL.

After the zoo, we tempered the unmitigated joy of PANDAS with a trip to our national cemetery.


Arlington was lovely and sobering and sad and grand.  Ben took some really excellent photos, and JFK's grave made me cry.

We took our car back to the hotel and walked back to the mall, stopping for our, like, 15th trip to Subway, which is the one place all of our kids eat at with no complaints.  We took a break in Lafayette Square to meet up with an old friend of mine who works for the White House Historical Association and gifted u some DC swag. I CANNOT BELIEVE I didn't take any pictures! MY WHOLE LIFE IS PICTURES.

Next up, Harry and I went to the Holocaust museum, which was hauntingly beautiful. I was deeply moved by the exhibit and the photographs-- oh the pictures, you guys.  Little kids SMILING while they wait for the trains with their parents.  But!  I have read a lot about the Holocaust-- including the letters my grandfather sent home after his unit liberated a concentration camp-- and tons of historical fiction set in that time period, so I knew the scope of the horror.  Harry, though, was fairly unprepared.  The museum is interactive, and you can spend as much or as little time with each part of the exhibit as you want to.  We skipped some of the videos and kiosks because Harry was overwhelmed.  He spent the longest time looking at the walls of liberators and the photos of soldiers freeing camps-- ostensibly looking for his great grandfather, which was adorable, but also because they were the only hopeful images.

 Ben took everyone else to American History and the White House Visitor's center for First Lady dress viewing, White House trivia, and more Smithsonian toy shop souvenirs.

We took a moment to decompress at the Washington Monument after I bought Harry Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in the museum gift shop.
I needed a stiff drink after THE SHOES, so we headed back to the hotel for happy hour and decompression in our room.
Then we got in the car and went directly to Shake Shack.  Which, YES, PLEASE. (Also, we walked an average of 13 miles a day, so the kids were so happy to drive somewhere!)

 Cooper took this one

 We tried to do the monuments at night, but everyone was cold and tired and just did not even want to.
 The next morning, we prepared to leave the city even though we all kind of wanted to stay.  I think that's the key to a successful trip-- you have to leave when you want more.  We are already excited to come back in a few years.

"On the way" (a phrase that probably even now makes steam come out of Ben's ears because this place was like 45 minutes IN THE WRONG DIRECTION) we stopped at a Wizard of Oz park that my friend recommended.  It was AMAZING.

Even though it was cold, we stayed for over an hour and ate a snack of-- you guessed it-- MUNCHKINS on the bench before we hopped in the car and drove  SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS to Oxford, Ohio, stopping precisely once for gas and more Subway because Bagel and Deli closed at 8 due to spring break for Miami of Ohio, and we were really only stopping in Oxford to eat.

Luckily the park  wore everyone out, and the drive was excellent:
The bagels were even better.  This is my fave, a Wam-O.  Ben had a Gandy Dancer, a Doyle, and a Terrapin for dinner.  Harry tried an Original Breakfast.  Jack had an All American, and Dorothy and Cooper got plain ones with butter.  Then the next morning, I grabbed a Miami to go, and Ben snagged a David Letterman.  THAT'S A TON OF BAGELS.

Our hotel was SUPER CREEPY and very axe-murdery with only like 6 guests in the whole place, all of us sharing one long outside hallway.

But there was a pool!  

And also a hot breakfast.  With a gravy dispenser that might have been the highlight of Harry's trip.

Even though the kids were about to spend like 6.5 more hours staring at screens in the car, they played with their iPads so happily we almost didn't want to disturb them to take pictures and get milkshakes.

 The room where it happens at Bagel and Deli!
 Adorable Oxford. That place used to be a bar that my mom liked so much she bought a t-shirt.  Now it's another bar that's probably also awesome because Oxford is full of awesome bars.
 My favorite head shop!
 Jack swears he is going to go to school here, and I soooooooo hope he follows through on that.
 And not just for the gas station milkshakes.  Although.
I hope to recreate this picture in 10 years when he is an incoming freshman.

 At Bagel and Deli, more pics by Cooper.

 Don't knock UDF until you've tried it and then you won't be able to because OMG.

 Ben bought me a t-shirt.
 Bye bye, Ohio.  We'll miss you!

From Oxford, we drove to Lafayette for lunch because the kids love checking out college campuses.

Purdue did not disappoint:

Cooper was a huge fan of the food court.
 So was Ben.
 Cooper just needs a good straight jacket sometimes.
 In a fit of total dorkiness, we stopped by the home of the best online writing resource in America, the Purdue OWL.

And now, we are home!  Dealing with this: