edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Sky Zoning Out June 22, 2014

Filed under: Activities — edamomie @ 8:31 am
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A: Activities

Hyped-up Sky Zoners

Hyped-up Sky Zoners

It was time to get out of the house… When my son Calvin turned nine recently, it was his first official birthday party that we didn’t host at our home. Months prior to his birthday, he began pushing for a Sky Zone Trampoline Park off-site party with his friends. Everyone was doing it.

 

Calvin is highly persistent and stood over my shoulder one Sunday morning in April as we reviewed the Sky Zone website for party details and costs. There is a fair amount of information there, but you really do need to call to ask specific questions and check date and time availability. Calvin was standing by with my mobile. I made the call, narrowed in on a date (not realizing June 15 was Father’s Day — totally thought it was June 21), length of jump time and put down a deposit. I received a confirmation email, shared it with family and filed it away til early June.

 

Orange Sky Zone Socks

Orange Sky Zone Socks

When early June rolled around, we relied on Evite again. One mom alerted me to the fact that our date selection was also Father’s Day. Not cool on my part! However, Calvin was born on the occasion nine years ago. I polled a few mom’s (and my husband) and they didn’t seem to mind, so we kept the date. At least no other kid birthday parties would coincide with his!

 

The Sky Zone advisor I talked with upon booking recommended 1 hour of jump time. Calvin would not hear of it – – 1.5hrs was the minimum acceptable jump time in his book. So it was: 3:10 check-in, 3:30 jump time, 5:00 pizza time. 5:40 clear out.

 

Lego Pirate BDay Cake

Lego Pirate BDay Cake

With five guest yeses about a week out, I started to think about offering to carpool the boys from Minneapolis (our home) to Plymouth (Sky Zone’s location), a 25 minute drive. All of the parents took me up on that one. It would mean 2:00p.m. arrival at our home and 6:30p.m. pick-up. I quickly realized that Calvin’s easy no-frills party would still be work.

 

I started prepping the day-of the party at 10:00a.m. This included a run to Target, baking and decorating a two-tier cake, cleaning the house and packing up stuff to take to Sky Zone. All by 2:30. We went with a pirate theme, timely because his class had just finished their pirate lessons and party at school.

 

Sky Zone contracts pizza out to Davanni’s. Part of our party plan meant we’d get one cheese and one pepperoni pizza for up to 10 kids for our $200 total amount. To order a sheet cake to be delivered as well, they need seven days notice. I opted to make ours and bring in ice cream too (guidelines state that you may bring in baked goods and pre-packaged ice-cream).

 

Trampoline Dodgeball

Trampoline Dodgeball

The boys start arriving. Wow, they are loud! We have two carloads going up and the discussion is high-pitched and rotating between subjects of swearing, pants and grossness. We check in at Sky Zone where bright orange gripper socks and water during jump time are all inclusive. The party host, Austin, runs all of the waivers through (I emailed requests to parents ahead of time so they could fill out their child’s form online). There is some confusion if the online submission totally covers them, or if kids needed to also print it out and bring it with them. I’m still confused.

 

The boys, stickered with their 2 jump time segments (3:30-4:00 and 4:00-5:00), burst in to the zone. I wondered if 1.5 hours would seem like an eternity. In most people’s opinion, an hour is plenty. Nine-year old boys are not most people. The norm doesn’t apply. They went from trampoline mosh pit to dodgeball and back to sky high jumps.

 

Snarky Pirate

Snarky Pirate

After the boys were jumping for 30 minutes, I decided to brave it and join my daughter, Ava, and her cousin, Ravelle. After all, we did pay for a block of up to 10 jumpers. There were 9 of us. I wasn’t prepared for the high fun-factor and height these trampolines afforded, not to mention the workout and soreness days later even after a 10 and 20 minute segment. Picture Lego man jumping jacks from the LEGO Movie.

 

At promptly 5:00, it was time for the party room. The party host helped with set-up and had our beverages ready and pizzas on the way. Did the boys not expend any energy? They still seemed crazed to me. The girls and I hung tight together in the corner. What happened to the sweet little eight-year-old boys that had manners? Ava informed me that this was a new phase.

 

Super Soaker = Great Gift!

Super Soaker = Great Gift!

Post pizza, there was cake. Roughly, one could discern a pirate Lego theme (I made use of our numerous Lego figurines for this). One small section of the cake had literally fallen off at home, most likely because I baked a 9×13″ pan’s worth of batter in an 8×8″ square pan. I improvised with a pirate puppet to cover the mishap. It still tasted delish.

 

The boys were amped up and it was time for gifts. How can you go wrong with footballs, ropies and squirtguns? After more pants talk and pull-down attempts, we tidied up our party room and checked out at 5:38. They do run a tight ship there. I thought it was the perfect amount of time.

 

Somehow my husband got Ava and Calvin in his car and I had the four boys in mine. That was a long drive home. When I arrived and pulled up behind them, Ava inquired, “Mom, are you okay?” Ahh, she’s so sympathetic! Calvin and friends immediately tore into the gifts, launching the ropie into the tallest tree on the block. Finally, the parents arrived and chorralled their boys into their cars. By 6:45p.m., it was silent. Time to move right into Father’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Lego My Eggo July 1, 2012

Filed under: Activities — edamomie @ 7:05 pm
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A: Activities

Lego My Eggo Invites

Lego My Eggo Invites

On the heels of my 9-year-old daughter’s birthday party, we rolled right into my son’s two weeks later. He was going to be 7 and had never had a friend birthday party with more than a few friends. Last year he opted to go to the movies and out for pizza (Cars II and Fireside Pizza). This year, in a new school where all of his other classmates were having parties, he decided he should invite a larger group and we’d host it at our house.

 

It can be a challenge to find a weekend in the summer to host a party. People have plans in Minnesota. We invited 10 boys, 6 were able to attend even though the invites went out about 12 days in advance. We settled on a Lego theme and based on the only time slot over the weekend we could find (10a-12p), we agreed that waffles would be served. The Lego my Eggo party moved into the planning phase.

 

I uncovered some Lego scrapbook paper and stickers I meant to use ages ago and printed the invite copy on vellum.  My son Calvin, eager to help with the assembly, cut the paper in the slicer machine and used the gliding tape dispenser to attach the layer of paper and vellum. Then the puffy Lego block stickers were adhered. We put the invite list together and gathered the addresses and left the final steps until the next day.

 

He was up early the next morning and wrote everyone’s name, based on his own spelling rules, largely on the only envelopes we had. I applauded the effort and tried to clean up the chalk-like smears on the flap side. I addressed the front side immediately and we headed to the post office to get them in the mail.

Waffle Strips for Dipping

Waffle Strips for Dipping

 

I had help with the party prep as my parents were visiting. Critical, in my view. The weekend prior, Calvin and I hit the Lego store at the Mall of America. He spent his birthday money on the Pirate Ship and I found a Lego party kit at 50% off. Three days in advance, we shopped for food and two days prior we reorganized the house to set up Lego stations.

 

The day prior to the party, my Mom found the perfect waffle-maker. It made 6 strips of 4 square-long waffles. The party was on a Saturday morning, which meant devoting all Friday night to the final details. I made 2 9″ chocolate cakes to layer and a pan of cupcakes. With the rectangles stacked, I trimmed off the cupcake tops, frosted them and attached 6 of them to the top of the cake. I was going for a Lego brick look. I sprinkled blue and yellow over the white-frosted cake and called it good.

 

Legographics

Legographics

We set the table and came up with a rough agenda, just to be sure we could keep the group entertained. We made one area where the boys could draw ideas for their Lego creation on graph paper, then see how it translated into a Lego structure (Legographics). In four other areas: boats, cars,  dinosaurs and houses, we set out some pieces that matched those items.  In another area, we had the large Lego flatboards so at the end, they could bring everything to contribute to the Lego City.

 

The boys arrived at 10a and tore into the party favors by their place setting – a birthday Lego guy, graph paper and Lego construction card (all in the kit). Calvin also created a one-of-a-kind Lego person for each of his friends. I started them five minutes prior to the party and kept them warm in the oven until we had enough for everyone. The waffles were super easy to make, about 3 minutes for each batch.

Group Present Opening

Group Present Opening

 

We called it a Lego Bar and accompanied it with a side of chocolate milk. With their waffle strips served up, they chose their fruit and syrup toppings and let loose with the Redi-Whip – a delight, no doubt. After clean-up, they started on the Lego assembly.  The graph paper drawing was a little advanced. One boy created a rollercoaster, another a train. All to contribute to the city. They were focused for a good 45 minutes.

Homemade Lego Cake

Homemade Lego Cake

 

Around 11:10, Calvin opened his gifts from his friends, in order by first letter in their first name. They all laughed at the silly cards. Then it was time to sing Happy Birthday and have a sliver of the Lego cake, its identity made more apparent by the Lego brick candles in primary colors. With 20 party minutes left, my husband whooshed in and made the best of their sugar high with some old-fashion Simon Says and party games.

 

Parents arrived at noon and we sent everyone off with their Lego guys and a plate of Knox Blox in blue and red. We pulled it off. Calvin set up his thank you card writing station, but progress is slow-going. We talked about the outing from last year as compared to this year’s stay-at-home party. He was on the fence for what he preferred. For the seventh, he shared fun times with a larger group of friends and we had lots of leftover cake and a fancy, new waffle maker to extend the celebration. However, until those thank you’s go out, I’m not lego’ing any eggos.

 

Playtime’s Over January 3, 2012

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 10:07 pm
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I: Independence

Ticket to Ride... For Hours and Hours

Ticket to Ride... For Hours and Hours

Every time the holidays are upon us, a pang of anxiousness sets in. I swear I will find the perfect blend of relaxation, activity, productivity, festivity and refocusing. Add a husband and a few kids to this equation with no where to be and zero routine – – it can actually create stress.

 

Seriously, time off from hectic schedules is the last thing I want to complain about. So a bit of reflection on how our family fared over nearly two weeks off is as follows.

 

Relaxation: four movies in one day for the kids (not a proud parenting moment); yoga, running and reading for me.

 

Activity: games! Ticket to Ride, Europe ate up nearly 3 hours of our New Year’s Eve. We played two more times throughout the week before Tweety Bird on the iPod won out. We also roller skated with hundreds on the 31st – the challenge of avoiding collisons the main focus.  And some swimming and basketball.

 

New AG Family

New AG Family

Productivity: shopping. Lots of it. Ikea for desk chairs for kids that took a few hours of assembly. A visit from a measurer for new blinds. Mass purging and organization of files with some help from Ikea. For my 6-yr-old son, building Legos; for my 8-yr-old daughter, taking care of an additional, high maintenance American Girl.

 

Festivity: gatherings. Entertaining at our home, a visit to our extended family for two more celebrations. The usual continuous stream of food.

 

Refocus: The 2011 Love Hate List. We could all agree we hate our school’s early start time. We talked about some household improvements for 2012. Things got negative so the conversation ended quickly.

 

Threatening Elf on the ShelfOver the course of our break, our normal routine got seriously out of whack. I tried not to feel guilty about sleeping in and taking a daily nap. I realized how unproductive and listless children (and adults!) can become when left to their own devices. From all the gifts at the onset of break, I could hardly believe it to hear they were bored. I found them bickering with each other often. The magic of The Elf of the Shelf had all but worn away.

 

My son assembled numerous Lego contraptions, one of which I barely captured on film – the Dinocopter, and a few Lego monster transformers from the Lego HERO collection. My daughter welcomed Piper (a brunette American Girl doll) and Honey (a golden retriever also by American Girl) to the family, along with clothing, suitcases, sleeping bags and pet carriers for them. Judging from some informal polling and lines at both stores, Lego and American Girl were the tops on boys and girls’ Christmas Lists this year.

 

Lego Dino Transporter

Lego Dino Transporter

Tradition is, the kids always get a board game from us parents. This year, Ticket to Ride, Europe, was the choice. Even though for players ages 8 and up, I decided to get it anyway for them. It’s a strategic game with a lot of options and choices. It took much patience to learn and time to play, but it held their attention for hours.

 

Now, this week, parents are happily back to work. Kids are off for yet another week and having a blast at their grandparents. I am relieved to have a plan for the week: work and work out. We do better in our household with a bit of routine. We know this about ourselves. It’s tough to get into total guilt-free relaxation mode.

 

I’m always curious to hear how others handle a week or more time off at home. How do you fare?

 

We are Part of a Lego Nation May 22, 2011

Filed under: Activities — edamomie @ 10:35 pm
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A: Activities

We were among the last attending Legofest in Minneapolis on Sunday. Team Lego was still going strong after three days and we (me, my daughter and son and my son’s friend) were lucky enough to see the beginnings of some towering Lego structures and weekend-long group activities, including Creation Nation, come to fruition.

 

The weekend show had five shifts – Friday night 4:00-9:00p.m, Saturday and Sunday 9:00a.m. to 2:00p.m and 3:00p.m. to 8:00p.m. I suspected our shift was probably the least popular time slot, judging from the 50-plus lines of roped stanchions that were empty when we arrived at 4:15p.m.

 

There would be plenty to see. Our first step was a visit to the Model Museum. Darth, C3PO and R2D2 were our favorites. It might have been named the Parent Photo Opp Center. Next was making and racing cars at the Race Ramps. They had done this (on a smaller-scale) at the Mall of America location, so they pushed their usual car creation to include wings and wheels on the top of the car, in case it flipped.

Legomerica

Legomerica

 

We then headed to Creation Nation – a huge map of the U.S outlined by white Legos, surrounded by tables and Lego staff that would strategically place your 16×16 Lego count green square where most appropriate. We contributed a modern house and a garden that strangely enough ended up in Kansas. We spent some time at the overview each pointing out special structures – The Statue of Liberty and what looked like the White House in Texas next to a prison. We couldn’t really see Minnesota from our viewpoint.

Legos in the Limelight

Legos in the Limelight

 

There were several Monochrome Bricklayer areas set up. We spent 20 minutes or so at the lime green station and added our creations to the cityscape going up. It was 5:15.  We headed over to the Lego Mystery Murial wall, but they were so distracted by the two adjoining Lego stores and the $20 to spend at their discretion, we turned our focus to shopping.  After paying for parking and tickets –  $20 for parents and $18 for kids (2 and under are free) – parents were also buying Legos. When we entered the store, we could browse at our leisure. After 5 minutes, I looked up and wondered why the mad rush? It was time to make our choices, pay and get out. After settling on a few items in our price range, we moved through the line quickly due to at least ten checkouts.

 

With the anxiety of what to get behind us, we moved on to the football toss with the Vikings (the Lynx were there as well) and bypassed the long line for the jump bubble – both of which they could do anywhere. We then came across Brickscapes Model Mash-ups, a mix of all different Lego series behind a glass cube and questions prompting kids to find where certain Legos where – sharks, dogs, etc – in the mashed-up cityscape.  It was 6:15. We were at the two-hour mark.  We still had not visited the Games area (Lego Creationary tables set up seemed very popular) nor the Universe videogame area, nor the Lost Parents area.  I was fine with all of this. Calvin’s friend was ready to go too, a new StarWars Lego battleship in hand.

Putting Legos In Their Place

Putting Legos In Their Place

 

We arrived home around 7:00 with some take-out that was downed with lightning speed. What? Why?  Oh yeah, the new StarWars Lego Droid Tri-Fighter with 268 pieces awaited. Now Calvin could neatly organize it in our newly created three-ring binder with sleeves to hold each project’s box cover and instruction book. Now if we could just keep the foot-piercing Legos in their place.
 

At the end of the day, Legos categorized away, a thought I’m pondering: No doubt they are a great toy that people of all ages can enjoy, but contributing to all of that plastic production?  Yikes! I’ll leave you with Lego’s call out in their brochure: Did you know that Lego minifigures are the world’s largest population?

 

Lego of Your Santa Gift Expectations December 29, 2010

Filed under: Outings,The Unknown — edamomie @ 11:15 am
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O and U: Outings; Unknown

Despite what you know is good for your children, when it comes to Christmas, the rules don’t apply. This may have been one of the last years to use “the elves are watching” threats to my advantage and most importantly live vicariously through their belief that Santa still exists.  And I blew it.

Lego Calendar, T-shirt and Truck

Lego Calendar, T-shirt and Truck

 

My logic got the best of me. My 7-yr-old wanted a DQ Blizzard Maker. It was the only thing she asked of Santa. Rather than buy this cheap piece of plastic, I searched out other ways to recreate the experience. Luckily, when Christmas morning arrived, the explanatory note from Santa justified the ice cream sprinkle toppings, two special ice cream bowls and directions to the ice box where smoothie mix and ice cream awaited.  Santa said our blender would work just fine to create magical ice cream treats. She seemed happy and nary a mention of the missing blizzard maker have I heard.

 

My 5-yr-old asked Santa for Legos and Hotwheels. After comparing gift purchases with the family and learning that they were getting him every variation of gifts in these areas (from PJs and T-shirts to calendars), I decided to go my own route. I got him a castle. He was astonished on Christmas morning. Baffled. Didn’t Santa understand his wishes? What about sugar-plum dreams of Legos and Hotwheels? He wouldn’t go near the castle, he insisted it was a mistake and must have been meant for his sister. How spoiled, right? Regardless, I still felt bad.

 

Larger-Than-Life Legoed Woody

Larger-Than-Life Legoed Woody

After all, we had just visited the new unveiling of the new Lego store at the Mall of America two nights prior. There was a huge Legoed Toy-Story Woody and a clear Legoed wall with each circle half-open for reaching in for Legos by shape and color – a Lego collectors dream. Surely, there were many items there he envisioned getting from Santa.

 

Which brings me to the conclusion that the Santa gift is the all-important, most anticipated one for children who still believe. It’s our job as parents to make that happen. I should have swapped out some other stuff, insisted that a massive 1,333 piece Lego masterpiece arrive via Santa. I have regrets.

 

Lego Wall Mosaic

Lego Wall Mosaic

Later on Christmas Day as the sleepless night prior kicked in for my son, we had a talk about graciousness in accepting a gift, Santa’s gift in particular. He was a bit stubborn and held out, “why did we go see Santa and tell him our wishes if he was just going to get us what he wanted to anyway?” He had a point. A bit more discussion and he came around to see it to my advantage, finally falling into a deep post-Christmas slumber.

 

The battle of wood (castle) vs. plastic (legos)

The battle of wood (castle) vs. plastic (legos)

I am glad I didn’t give into making up some creative gift exchange/return clause for Santa gifts. I was close. The next morning, both kids happily played with their new castle from Wonderment. I am feeling better about it now  – choosing to believe that maybe Santa did know best.

 

 
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