Saturday, April 1, 2017

Legoland Discovery Center Philadelphia

I was SO excited to be invited to yesterday's press opening of the Legoland Discovery Center outside of Philadelphia! As you know, we are crazy about Legos, and I'm a very important member of the press, so this was a no brainer. My twyns were at school so obviously I rented a child for the day (my bestie's four-year-old, because all things are better with a four-year-old in tow.)  

It is located at the Plymouth Meeting Mall and we had no trouble finding the entrance: 

This is technically "mall entrance #5", between Boscov's and the food court
We wasted no time enjoying the little touches, including the poles filled with lego bricks. If you are a lego fan, you will not be disappointed.

Upon entering, you can take a photo with a green screen background they fill in later, as with most amusement parks, available for purchase upon exiting [through the gift shop, of course.] The difference with Legoland Discovery Centers, however, is that it is not an amusement park, but rather, an indoor, interactive play zone and movie theater. You can start your visit out with an actual RIDE, though! It's a little train (with easy seating for children of all ages, and I imagine you could even hold a newborn), and you shoot at screens with your Lego "wand" to gain points. Great start to the visit! 
This four-year-old was screaming with glee! And older children would definitely enjoy beating their high scores.
You "pop" the bubbles with your star laster pointer and the points rack up on your seat counter.
Next we hit the Pirate Ship/Playzone. Kids take off their shoes and put them in the bins outside of it. It is a closed crawl space with slides and other features. A typical experience at many birthday party places, the four-year-old had no hesitation heading in and staying in for a while. It reminded me of hanging at the Please Touch Museum with my little ones and wishing there was a Starbucks barista directly adjacent :).

There is a cafe inside the Discovery Center, and at the press event they offered their refridgerated items like yogurts, cheese sticks, carrots, and many drinks. This included a smaller water bottle for kids (perfect!) and an unsweetened iced tea for me! Yay! It looked like they also had the ability to grill/cook different items such as hot dogs and pretzels, but I don't think those were available yet. It would be hard for them to compete with the food court directly outside of the LegoLand, so I don't think you would necessarily eat lunch inside the center. 

Next we hit the 4-D Movie Theater! This was a smaller version of the one we enjoyed at LegoLand Florida. It's called "4-D" because it has 3-D visuals, and adds in a spray of water and mist whenever it correlates to the story happening on screen. We watched a 15 minute showing of "Chima" and she was squealing! She and her neighbors were trying to grab at the images, and laughing whenever they sprayed water. She yelled, "THIS MOVIE IS WETTING US!" Hahaha hee hee hee. Thanks for the magic girlie. 

Other fun features included an Earthquake zone where you can try to build an Earthquake-proof building before turning on the Earthquake rotating plate underneath your creation to test it out. 

Photo credit: LegoLand

A Lego Friends building area: 

Larger than Life Characters: 

The Duplo building area/Bubble Zone: 

In fact, almost every bit of the Discovery Center is a building zone!:

This includes a race car building zone, and a slide down which you can slide next to your creation! : 

I thought the Birthday Party Rooms looked AWESOME, too. This is totally going on my list: 

complete with Lego Birthday Cake

Last, but not least, you will likely see better photos of Philadelphia's own MiniLand, which is just amazing and apparently took 20 Master Builders six months to create the 50 iconic landmarks including: 
You can move Rocky up the steps of the Art Museum with the push of a button! 
You can race your buddy on the Schuykill with the crew boats at the Riverfront!
Ultimate sky scrapers!
This visit helped remind me, among other things, how much fun the mall can be, with its classic carousel and soft playzone for toddlers. Or maybe, how much fun a four-year-old can be! 

I get an award for not throwing up trying to take this photo.
So go have a bricktastic time at Legoland Discovery Center, Philadelphia. It is honestly the best part of the Florida amusement park, especially for Lego Lovers! Here are the details: 

The age ranges they advertise are 3 to 10 and they offer online pricing specials, including a limited number of "first to play" annual memberships at $54 per person (adult or child.)  They will be $59 per person after the official opening on April 6, 2017. A day pass starts at $19 per person online, and $24 at the door. 

Children under 2 are free!  

Minifigures can be traded with team members. 

They estimate 3 to 4 hours for the visit to the 10 play zones. This four-year-old lasted about 2 hours. 

Although I didn't take any pics of the Ninjago play zones, it is very prominent and includes a Ninjago training area that she was able to go in by herself! She said it was fun, but I'm sure my twyns would have been more the target age for the skills it "tested." 

See their site here for further details and to buy tickets. 

Let me know if you enjoyed it, or if you have any questions! 

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I was once part of a coup and I lived to tell the tale. If you follow my Twitter feed you would think I'm all bravado and no action. But I've seen my share of battles. I was a soldier in the field, and I was pretty sure I was going to lose my head. It was very intense and highly political, and it all took place inside the seemingly bright and cheery halls of a sleepy little university school of music. 

After having performed my twenties away and gotten a masters degree no one cares about, I found my way into the auspicious duty of higher education employment. About a year into my blissfully routine new position in administration our fearless leader (the Director of the School) had been called to another post...a bigger, badder school of music with a higher bounty. This set the waves of change in motion. 

He was both a conductor and highly respected performer in a well known early music ensemble. If you are not a musician, this means nothing to you. But if you are, you will understand the divisions in this world: performers, conductors, "academics", composers...even more gradations from there. Don't get me started on the Russians...But I digress...needless to say he came from the showman's side of the camp, but in a very academic way. This made the performing faculty quite happy, the music historians somewhat pleased, and the rest of the academics quiet. Certainly with his stature (and ego), the most important people in the school, the donors, were impressed. In short, he was highly respected. It was going to be tough to fill his shoes. 

Respected. By the faculty. However, on the administrative side, that is.. the lowly staff...well, we had a bit of a different perspective. He was nice, but hardly ever there (now we know why), quite snobby, and just a tiny bit misogynist. Just a teensy bit.

Most directorial appointments are for five years, and the first thing you do is go about spending ungodly amounts of money trying to woo other leaders from other institutions to jump ship and lead your army (have I mixed enough metaphors yet?) We in the administration hosted several candidates and quickly realized we would not likely end up any better than we currently had it. Not to mention,  with budgets being what they were, it was looking more and more likely that an internal candidate was going to be appointed for at least a year while we- I mean the university-got their heads out of their asses and ponied up some more dough and some more creative thinking to get us someone who actually thought about educating students. 

Oh yeah...remember education? Our business? 

This is the moment that we had to act fast. Although I had no IDEA that I was part of the we acting fast, thankfully another woman on the staff was five steps ahead of everyone and could drag me along into her little scheme. 

I say little, but lord, it was actually QUITE A BIG SCHEME. A coup.  And I love this woman. I wish she would run for president; you would all vote for her. I'm serious. Even the middle of the country. Her husband hunts. She loves the Lord. But she's also about as sassafras East Coast edgy as you can get. 

She pulled me aside in the middle of all this and asked me what I thought of a certain professor already in the school. I mentioned I enjoyed working with him. She told me he was our guy, we were going to fight for him. She told me that my immediate boss, the associate director, was otherwise likely to be the temporary appointee otherwise, and that was my alternative. 

My boss? You mean, the man who hired me? The man who met with me every morning and gave me the majority of my advice and instruction for my livelihood? I mean, I agreed, he was even more misogynistic than the Director, and actually, come to think of it, was a complete ten rungs down on the "respect from the faculty" ladder, which would hamper his ability to get things done, and actually, he's a horrible public speaker, and, come to think of it, is married to a Russian and has therefore been in the Russian piano faculty encampment ever since he got here so has their best interests only in mind in regards to admissions and scholarships and...WHOAH I'M COMPLETELY CONVINCED THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE WRONG GUY FOR THE JOB AND THIS WOMAN IS RIGHT. 

So she quietly asked me, if I agreed with her, to write a letter to the Dean with my recommendation. And please don't tell my boss. 

Meanwhile, my boss was getting the idea that a temporary appointment was likely to be made, and naturally it would be to him, so he had a plan of his own. 

"Twynmom," he said. 

(Now of course this was before I had children but you think that's my name don't you)

"Twynmom...there's going to be a succession and I'm so excited! I've been working towards this for a long time. We'll be working together more closely and you'll get a promotion! You'll have my corner office and I'll take the directors! It's going to be great for the whole school..."

"Uh huh."  I said...

"A lot of the faculty are on my side!"

[Russians, I think]

 "Wow." I said...

"Now about these stats..."

I tried to change the subject. Everyday. For two weeks. 

He'd ask me if I heard anything. I'd always say no. I felt bad for him. He didn't know there was a coup to overthrow him. Oh, he'd still be around on the faculty, he would just get bumped from his administrative position. But still, it was going to be a blow. 

I tried to keep my mouth shut when I saw my lady. She hardly knew me yet, and I wondered why she thought she could trust me with this information! How could she think I was safe? Or maybe she didn't, but she didn't have much other choice! She was desperate to rid Herself of the biased and corrupt assholes she'd been saddled with for YEARS who had no sense of what really ran the school: US. 

And she thought: maybe there is an ally in me. 
When she DID have a chance to chat with me she'd tell me how great this other guy was going to be. He even came into my office with her once and kind of nodded like, "are you cool?" 

I'd be like, "yeah, I'm cool." Like we could smoke a joint together.

I mean, he really was a Beetle on the dung heap. It did not take me three rounds of interviews to discover how much ass kissing was going to be involved in my new job. Not the kissing of asses of students and parents, mind you, but of faculty. The illustrious faculty, who were all Yo-Yo Ma and Leontyne Price in their minds but somehow needed to subjugate the back end of their careers to "give back" and impart their knowledge onto the next generation. 

But the Beetle...he was kind. He was Obama before we knew who Obama was. He was just like everyone else...a musician, an artist, a creator...and could do some paperwork too. I mean, I'm talking about the staff too. Did the rest of the faculty think we weren't ALSO musicians? Why else would we take half the pay of any other administrative job unless we also enjoyed the music aspect of it? He recognized that side of us. He spoke with a gentle tone to everyone, and defended women in the department whenever he had the chance. He and I partnered up to recruit an undergraduate female composition major...a unicorn! An amazing feat in and of itself. He could somehow roll up all the piles of dung around him into a neat pile of rolled up dung balls. 

Still dung... but organized.

So finally, the day had come. The Dean was there. The outgoing Director was there. My boss was there. My lady, and the Beetle were there. It was an internal press event, and the announcement was going to be made. No one told my boss what was about to happen, and he was excited. And for awhile there, I had a fleeting sense that I was on the outside of the information train and I might not know what was about to happen. But it did. And my boss had to make a speech with his throat half closing up due to the shock. I think he blinked twice for every second he was up there. I felt so bad for him. But I knew in my heart, it was the right decision. Even the outgoing Director, who had worked with him for years, didn't warn him. No one really respected him. He was the Director's lackey, all this time. And the Director just left him there, squirming on his own. 

But then, the Beetle spoke. And it was good. Everyone laughed. Everyone smiled at his humble acceptance, and declaration of a "come together" type attitude that could heal our divisions. He wasn't going to cost the price tag of an outsider, nor the time to train someone new. He wanted us to focus on education and academics once again, not just performance training. And he wanted to meet with the staff more than ever, and have an open door policy. It was a moment. 

A very good moment. 

A moment...that lasted ten years. 

And my lady...she got promoted. 

And myself...I got promoted too. 

And I got my boss's corner office anyway. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Self care is the new black

As much as I would enjoy posting funny stories like, why we got a rabbit versus a dog, or why all college girls get the flu and should stay out of my spin class, this blog as been more introspective for me as of late.
I mean, there's no question WHY we got a rabbit...look at that face! 
My blog needs to move on from its toddler phase! Especially now that the twyns are no longer toddlers! A friend suggested I post more '40 in transition' stories. Well that sounds sad. Maybe: "40 and up", like we are in a cool new bracket for sports.

Today I just wanted to share a story from a yoga class I've been enjoying. It's a late evening class that focuses on only a few poses and has a more meditative bent. So during the final pose the teacher relayed the story that her weekend including traveling and sharing a hotel room with her three children and husband. So, in order for her to stay sane, she needed to quietly wake up twenty minutes before everyone else, steal a corner of the room, and meditate/pose to start her day. She tapped into that feeling for just a short while, and it set her day off well.

I have 'heard tales' of women waking up before their children in order to find that peaceful moment before the chaos begins (and never really believed that bs because like, WHY would you wake up early when you could SLEEP more), but this put it in a different perspective. Perhaps it doesn't have to be a quiet moment, or even an alone moment, perhaps it just needs to be that 'centering mechanism' that you have.

Hmmmm...what do I have...that always centers me and makes me remember who I am?

It's not necessarily mind is never quiet enough for that...

OH YEAH. MUSIC. DANCE. SINGING. General annoyingness. THAT'S WHO I AM.

So this morning, after having watched Doctor Strange this weekend and hearing them discuss Chuck Mangione's "Feels so Good", I played it for the children while they ate breakfast and I prepared their lunches (our morning ritual.)

AND IT DID FEEL SO GOOD! It wasn't just music - I have to interact with the music in some way. And just remember that I have music in my soul and it is always there, a part of me. A big part of me. Now that it is no longer tied to my paycheck or self-esteem, it is there for me once again.

My husband has been on a Paleo diet since he got bad cholesterol/triglyceride numbers in mid-January and has been doing great. He feels better, he lost weight, and overall has more energy and all those obnoxious things people say when they make a "lifestyle change."

For my part, I was trying to stay 'grain-light' and 'dairy-light' and 'sugar-light' in support. Also, in an effort to help me lose a little weight too. Of course I haven't lost a pound. I even went full-on Paleo last week for exactly 6 days and pretty much lost the will to live. So we will not be doing that.

So, weight loss is frustrating. What else is new. This week I'm approaching it, not as the scale moves, but as self-care. Why shouldn't I do this FOR ME. Green smoothies, less caffeine, better sleep, workout, meet friends, purchase new workout clothes, FOR ME. Stop in each moment and think, "Do I WANT to be doing this? Will it feel good?"

Any smoothie with banana just tastes like banana so it's a win.
I know I'm not the first person to post about this, but just wanted to share. [as usual.]
[I could basically end all of my blog posts that way, heh heh.]

TO THIS WEEK! Cheers to self-care! I'm sure next week I'll explain why DONUTS FEEL SO GOOD but hey! You never know! :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I don't want to be a mom anymore.

That sentence is shocking, isn't it? 

After all I've been through to conceive and bring these babies home and healthy, I'm ready to call it a day.

Isn't that ok, though? When you are nine years into a job, interest may start to wane.

If you're a parent, you get it, right? The JOB of the mom, as it is, completely sucks most of the time. Now there are its benefits, like being the one thanked at the Academy Awards, or being the first one they run to when they get a boo-boo. But let's be honest: it's back-breaking, it's gut-wrenching, it's thankless, it's misunderstood, it's increasing in responsibility whilst simultaneously decreasing in authority.

That's the worst!!

As I wrote that last line, my daughter ran in from a snowstorm, told me my son was hurt, and when I ran outside, found him laughing with the neighbor boys over a sled wipeout. Hence negating the reason for my being out in the cold with a mini-heart attack.

I am going back to school. I think I've covered that. I'm SUPER excited, likely, OVERLY excited about my new career of nursing.
Here's my excitement over the imminent dissection of a cat.
Be lucky I didn't post the "after" pic.

Now nursing is certainly going to have it's suck-worthy days, right? It's probably completely going to drain me physically, psychologically, spiritually, and not to mention completely obliterate my current way of supporting my kids and husband in their daily endeavours.  So I am considering a pre-nursing-school-nuptial agreement so I don't head to my graduation ceremony only to be served with divorce papers!

Only partly kidding. Also only partly gracing the surface on the deep deep pool of anxieties in which I am swimming.

But I can imagine: it will increase in interest. In respect. In knowledge. In self-respect. In money? In understanding. And in respect.

Did I mention respect? 

We definitely do not respect parents, and the job of parenting in this country. There are certainly a lot of things we don't currently respect and honor in this country, so I'm going to let this one be my own personal demon for the time being rather than my overarching cause I cry about upon a mountain.

But for the most part, I have to say, the kids REALLY don't need me right now. They come home from school, I banter back and forth with them about practicing piano, finishing homework, and shuffle them off to their various activities. All the while cooking a relatively healthy dinner for them, and currently, a paleo-friendly dinner for myself and my husband. They help me with the prep of laundry, the mail, the trash, even the vacuuming and cleaning of the bathrooms! They are my little soldiers half the time, and the other half of the time, they are engaging in complete mutiny. Or at least, operate as conscientious objectors.
Let's not get started with the PTO. I've never seen a bunch of ladies work so hard to create life and stimulation for the students and teachers, at the same time as trying to remain unnamed, unthanked, and under the radar.

NOT MY THANG. I need CREDIT, mamas.

I am desperate for a little recognition...a little glimmer of understanding that I have a brain, a heart, and an ability to MAKE MONEY. Which is all that some people respect these days.

I won't make A LOT of money. I never do. I didn't aim to, EVER, (not even when I left performing) and I just don't see life through that filter. It's something my husband and I have struggled a lot with in our marriage. I have started to see life through his economics controls politics, how money controls relationships...but I still can't quite get him to see life through my filter. He WISHES he could. It would certainly be a lot more joyful for him. When he's skiing...yes, when he's skiing...he lives well within my filter.


We spent his 40th at his 'dream ski location' of Whistler. It's been over a year, and I still haven't blogged or scrapbooked it! But it's just for me, like most things, so what's my motivation?
Here's the last thing I know. After all is said and done, and nursing school is over (only 14 months!), I have landed my dream nursing job, and the twyns are enjoying fourth grade, and even if my weekly work hours match up to my husbands exactly, I will still be doing the majority of the housework, laundry, chauffeuring, homework support, and meal prep. Don't get me wrong, he has his chores: the entire outside of the house, all the repairs, the entertainment, technology needs, financial planning/investing/tax preparation, etc etc...we have chosen our division of labors. And with two incomes, we may even hire some support in one or two (or five) of those areas. But the sucky part of parenting will still likely reside with me. Including the hiring/firing/coordinating of care if we need support for my new hours.

But I still. CAN'T WAIT. 

It's MY time. 

The kids have heard me of late saying, "I can't wait to get a life!" It's not that they aren't my life, they absolutely ARE, but I am no longer at the center of theirs. And this is one of the cruel acts of motherhood that many women wiser than I have described:

it's the one job you train yourself out of. 

And the teenage years are coming! But those sweet, 'feed me' ' bathe me' 'play with me' times...are fewer and far between. I think we will ALL enjoy togetherness more when we prioritize it in ALL of our schedules, not just mommy sitting around shouting "GET OVER HERE AND ENJOY SOME FAMILY TIME DAMMIT!"

Thank you for listening. That was very sweet of you to listen to the rantings of a mommy who hasn't had a paycheck in five years. You certainly didn't need to pay her any mind at all ;)

P.S. I didn't make any political rants a part of this blog! Aren't you lucky!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A letter of apology to my mother #womensmarch

Dear Mom,

I'm sorry. First of all, I'm sorry we didn't join the marches yesterday. You could have come here to Philly, I could have gone to you in NYC, or we could have met in my old stomping grounds in D.C. It seems like we missed a historical moment, and I'm struggling with the reasons why.

Chicago Tribune
When I first heard about the organization of the marches, it was immediately after the election. I started receiving invitations on Facebook for the group "Pantsuit Nation" and the event "Women's March on Washington, January 21." I saw friends posting about their knitted pussy hats and what they were working on for the March. People started sharing places to stay, and organizing bus trips.

And it all made me angry. And more depressed.

I was angry that there wasn't this much chatter before the election. I was frustrated that I was afraid to wear my Hillary shirts and merchandise. I was feeling so alone in all of my posts on social media about Hillary, and in my discussions with my peers in the last year. I had to convince many of them to give Hillary a chance. I had to talk my way into a few votes, or at least an understanding of why I was excited to vote for Hillary.

And NO, not because she was a woman.

You and I both know, I do not need to go into her level of experience and expertise, or her smarts, to know that she would have gotten the job done. That she was vilified like no old white man ever has been on the Hill, or ever will be. That the level of celebrity that had reached politics had only put all women in the category of "Kardashian" rather than "Albright." That she was facing an uphill battle no matter which direction she took.

I started to keep quiet since the election. I tried to let it go. We tried to retreat together, and to lick our wounds in private. The burgeoning excitement over a march was, to me, unproductive. Where were you on election day. Will you still be here in two years, in four years, when we need your vote. Do you want to get together on the Mall to take a selfie and prove you care? Or do you want to alleviate the guilt you feel for not doing something more, sooner.

Because for all I did, which was, only discussion, donation - in person, on social media - I do, indeed, feel like I did not do enough. I should have proudly worn my shirt at my children's school and at their soccer games, regardless of what anger or prejudice it might have engendered. I did shy away from the manufactured controversy, when it came to my kids. So I do feel guilty for that. I feel like we let your generation down. That in 'trying to do it all', we are letting go of the power that got us here - your power, your fights, your protests, and your passion.

We take it for granted. And by not showing our children, we are insuring that they take it for granted.

Well, my generation has let you down. And I'm so, so sorry.

So I wished we had organized our family: you, me, and the mother of my nephews, to head to D.C. yesterday.

It wouldn't prove anything, or solve anything. It would have just made us feel... less lonely.

And I think that's what you, your generation, and frankly, me and mine, needs most right now.

I love you,

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