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August 17th - Daddycamp day sixteen

Today we took the Ferry ⛴ out to Rockaway Beach with Grandma and Grandpa, and met up with my sister Alexis and her kids Joey and Marilyn! I'd never been before, but I made up a treasure hunt for us to explore it: 

We decided to explore Jacob Riis park rather than the boardwalk.  

We decided to explore Jacob Riis park rather than the boardwalk.  

And here was the fun facts I hid in envelopes for the kids:

Proud to raise kids that know about Greek goddesses, Art Deco, Muckrakers, and The Ramones.  

Proud to raise kids that know about Greek goddesses, Art Deco, Muckrakers, and The Ramones.  

I put each clue into an envelope and hid them at spotswhen the kids weren't looking. Fortunately Rockaway Beach is not so crowded, so they managed to stay where I stashed them all day! (I had extras in case they didn't.) 

Beach cool

Beach cool

I had thought we would spend the day exploring and not spend too much time in the water but YOU GUYS. THE WATER WAS SO MUCH FUN. The kids had never been in huge waves like they had at Rockaway, and watching them experience that was incredible.  

First time in waves like this 🌊 #morningfunmanifesto #daddycamp

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Look at all this empty beach! It reminded me of the Little Fugitive.  

Look at all this empty beach! It reminded me of the Little Fugitive.  

We managed to find three of the four clues (never made it out to Fort Tilden), so I just gave them that clue. But we got to see the cool Art Deco architecture of the buildings on the beach, which were just lovely.  

Very DeChirico, no? 

Very DeChirico, no? 

The ferries are cheap, the beach is free and not too packed, the food is excellent, the sights are fantastic, and the water is lovely... definitely highly recommended for summertime in NYC! 

August 16th - Daddycamp day fifteen

Back in it after a day of work, we used today to work on props for our Hotcakes movie (which we're hoping to shoot next week, but might have to bump up to work the scheduling). The kids had lunch with their Nana who was dog sitting for a dachshund named Dodger. Lyric has always been afraid of dogs, even tiny ones, and freaked out a little when he first came over. But by the time I picked him up (thanks to Zephyr demonstrating what a friendly doggo he was) Lyric was straight up hugging Dodger:

Awwwwww

Awwwwww

A day where you can overcome a fear, much like a day you learn something,  is a good day. And we went to the dentist and neither of them had any cavities (which was a 2600% improvement from last time, so hooray)!

August 14th - MUSEUM MONDAY at Flushing Meadows!

Today we headed out to Flushing Meadows for a massive scavenger hunt! I gave the kids this double-sided map: one side showing the site today, with the things we had to find, and one side showing the site as reprinted from a map of the 1964 World's Fair...

We took the 7 train up to Willets Point (where we could spy a bunch of the sights on our scavenger hunt list from the train window) and I let the kids lead the way to find the things on our list. First stop: the Unisphere!

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On the way the kids found this abandoned pedestal and posed as their own statues.

Next stop SHOULD have been the Queens Museum of Art to see the New York Panorama, but oops, that's closed on Mondays. My bad! We made a quick move over to the New York Hall of Science instead. It was outside there we found the two rockets!

Explaining Zephyr's pained face: he was preparing to jump up into the air for a "blast off" photo that never came out. 

Explaining Zephyr's pained face: he was preparing to jump up into the air for a "blast off" photo that never came out. 

Just a little hug.  

Just a little hug.  

We found the Great Hall, which was surprisingly open and had an amazing exhibit inside where you could effect a virtual ecosystem by moving within it. It was supercool and the kids loved it.  

Plus, as a bonus, you get to experience one of the most striking architectural spaces in NYC.  

Plus, as a bonus, you get to experience one of the most striking architectural spaces in NYC.  

But then we hit the science playground to find Archimedes' Screw, and the kids had a blast there. Admission to the playground is extra, but I say it's worth it. 

Watching Archimedes' Screw work justifies the price of admission IMHO.  

Watching Archimedes' Screw work justifies the price of admission IMHO.  

I was afraid my blunder about the Queens Museum being closed Monday would prevent us finding cool World's Fair memorabilia, but the Hall of Science had us covered. 

Three pieces of World's Fair memorabilia, check! 

Three pieces of World's Fair memorabilia, check! 

We hit lunch at a Mexican restaurant nearby and the kids DUG it. But first we passed by another item on our list! 

Titans GO! 

Titans GO! 

Then after lunch we hit the Queens Zoo, where having had some practice at the Brooklyn Zoo, the kids were ready to touch a sheep. Sort of. 

It took a few attempts, admittedly.  

It took a few attempts, admittedly.  

We also got to see an adorable Andean bear cub, who was the child of Nicole and Bouba. An important mystery solved for our hunt! 

My cubs with an actual cub.  

My cubs with an actual cub.  

It was a lot of walking (my watch said we walked over 8 miles over the course of the day!) but the kids were having so much fun they didn't even notice. I highly recommend printing out the hunt and trying it yourself! 

August 3rd - Daddycamp day twelve

Today we went to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden with my sister Alexis and her kids Joe and Marilyn, and being Brooklynites, they are EXPERTS on all the fresh spots to hit. After an exciting-yet-serene romp through the Japanese gardens, we hit the "local flora" section:

Very brambly! 

Very brambly! 

We were pretty much the only ones there, and it was nice and shady on a hot day. We hit the children's learning center after that: 

Pictured: kids ignoring nature in favor of Pokémon cards. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   

Pictured: kids ignoring nature in favor of Pokémon cards. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   

And then we took a quick picnicbreak and headed to the Brooklyn Zoo, right across the street! 

What does a two headed turtle take for a headache? Ex-shell-drine! Ugh, sorry.  

What does a two headed turtle take for a headache? Ex-shell-drine! Ugh, sorry.  

They let peacocks roam around the zoo, which is pretty cute. Also cute: watching kids run in terror from a peacock.  

Why hello.  

Why hello.  

It seemed like the animals were more active than normal towards the end of the day. I'm gonna try hitting zoos in the afternoon more often.  

Getting kids to show you their face while crouching reminds one that frogs have no necks. 

Getting kids to show you their face while crouching reminds one that frogs have no necks. 

Zephyr and Marilyn in a large groundhog tunnel together. Cute! 

Zephyr and Marilyn in a large groundhog tunnel together. Cute! 

And then we finished off the day on the Prospect Park Carousel!  Everything is right next to each other!

Really lovely, and sometimes it plays calliope versions of the hits of the '70s, including the theme song to Welcome Back Kotter

Really lovely, and sometimes it plays calliope versions of the hits of the '70s, including the theme song to Welcome Back Kotter

And now I take a week off as we head to the beach to hang with the kids cousins! Back on the 14th with a Museum Monday scavenger hunt in Flushing Meadows! 

August 2nd - Daddycamp day eleven

It was a rainy day today, so we took a bit of time to do some reading... Zephyr is halfway through Ernest Cline's Ready Player One:

He's pretty immersed in it! I figured he'd be into it.

He's pretty immersed in it! I figured he'd be into it.

And then we got down to working on storyboards for the upcoming movie we're planning for the end of the month. I had big plans of getting them to work on the composition frames, but that was a bit outside their current artistic skills (it involves a lot more deep skills in figuring out relative size and such). So I did that, but I had them work on the second frame, which is a kid's drawing of a meteor crashing through our kitchen window. Here's where we got:

And then they started building with blocks. Hey, I'm down with that! I think they were playing at being realtors for pokémon, which was weird, but whatever!

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And then I took the boys swimming again... it's incredible seeing how much they've picked up after a few weeks of exposure, just going underwater fearlessly now. Here's our list of what we learned for the week!

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August 1st - Daddycamp day ten

Today we got back to making storyboards for our movie we're filming later this month, or at least tried to. It was an uphill effort, the kids were fighting it and felt like they had cabin fever. I decided we needed to go on a quest for the afternoon activity, vegetarian cooking for mommy.  

Scootering! What's your kind of life? 

Scootering! What's your kind of life? 

Here's what the plan was: I wanted to make a special jam for mommy (using this pectin-free recipe I found online) inspired by the letters in her name, CHAY. That way she could say completely literally "that's my jam!" CH could be cherries, A could be apricots, but Y was tricky. However, I thought something using yuzu, a Japanese citrus, would be perfect and tasty. But they don't sell yuzu just anywhere, so I took the kids into Chinatown on a yuzu quest. 

Did we find it? Maybe. I couldn't read the sign, so it could have just been a lemon, but you know what? Good enough! I'm just gonna say that it is in fact a yuzu we used.  

The cherries, apricots, and yuzu reducing

The cherries, apricots, and yuzu reducing

We cut the cherries and apricots together and I tried to get the kids to help me mash the fruit up in the pot, but they were distracted by wanting to play with the neighbors. So I did it on my own, modeling behavior.  

Actually came out pretty tasty! 

Actually came out pretty tasty! 

Then I got the kids involved by having them draw on the homemade labels we made for the jam.  

Made with TLC! 

Made with TLC! 

We haven't gotten a taste test yet, maybe tonight! Stay tuned! 

July 31st - MUSEUM MONDAY at MoMA!

Print it out and try it yourself! 

Print it out and try it yourself! 

Back in it for Museum Monday!  Today we started out by doing some quick work on storyboarding our movie for later in the month:

Pencil behind the ear, ready to get down to business

Pencil behind the ear, ready to get down to business

We hit MoMA around noon and met today's SPECIAL GUESTS: Chay (Associate Director of the MoMA Design Store, AKA Mommy), Alexis (my sister), and Joe and Marilyn (Alexis's adorable kids). We hit the café first because the kids were already hungry for lunch, and the hunt was on!

Joe found a great orange color right away in this Guyton/Walker wallpaper

Joe found a great orange color right away in this Guyton/Walker wallpaper

This scavenger hunt is designed to have a little bit more of a structure than the previous two... you go through the fifth floor galleries looking for the various schools of modern art for which to get a feeling (pointillism, cubism, dada, etc)  and as you do, you look for a really good example of a particular color. 

This Signac was a really good example of pointillism for the kids

This Signac was a really good example of pointillism for the kids

The school that had the most resonance for the kids this time was, surprisingly, Dadaism. They went through a whole host of emotions in that gallery, not understanding how it was art at first, to appreciating how anti-art could be art, to appreciating the inherent beauty in the works.  

Duchamp's hypnotic spinning discs made them calm. Sorry Monet's water lillies! 

Duchamp's hypnotic spinning discs made them calm. Sorry Monet's water lillies! 

Finding the colors is not too hard to do, but I was hoping the kids would get into choosing really great examples of colors (like an Yves Klein blue or some such). The kids took it a slightly different way, though, finding cool things that were a specific color. 

I found out later this is Zephyr's parrot face.  

I found out later this is Zephyr's parrot face.  

The kids were kind of over it by the end this time (they wanted to play together in Central Park) so we finished up quickly. But we got it all in! 

Marilyn was surprised by this taxidermy Angora Goat in Rauschenberg's Monogram.  

Marilyn was surprised by this taxidermy Angora Goat in Rauschenberg's Monogram.  

Had to get a picture of Marilyn with Rosenquist's Marilyn.  

Had to get a picture of Marilyn with Rosenquist's Marilyn.  

Zephyr got into Bridget Riley's op art, saying it both surprised him and made him feel calm

Zephyr got into Bridget Riley's op art, saying it both surprised him and made him feel calm

Next Museum Monday is August 14th at Flushing Meadows! Tune in, it's gonna be bonkers!

July 20th - Daddycamp day eight

Zephyr and I worked on our bot a little more... talk to it here.  It's coming along well! We built an introductory protocol into the bot, and some more pictures of ZRR-Bot expressing emotion.

Lyric had another session of reading with Nana.  And he made this in blocks:

He called it both a bridge and a crocodile.

He called it both a bridge and a crocodile.

And then we did Governors Island on the hottest day of the year with my sister Alexis and her two kids. We biked around the island on a surrey, it was insane. HOT TIP: Governor's Island has a lot of stuff closed on a Thursday, such as places to get frozen drinks! 

My phone ran out of juice on Governor's island, so no pictures. But we all pretty much ran out of juice by the end of the day and collapsed at home.

I get a week off (and the kids go to an actual camp for a week) before starting up Daddycamp again July 31st, with a Museum Monday at MoMA! Check you then!

July 19th - Daddycamp day seven

Today, bright and early, I finished the last steps of my pre-prep for our monthly treasure hunt. This would be a new one for us: a treasure hunt outside in THE ELEVATED ACRE, one of my favorite secret parks in NYC.

Preparation for this one was kind of involved... It started this weekend at the beach, where I sourced 4 flat rocks and brought them home. Then, I used sharpies and nail polish to number them from one to four on one side and write riddles on the other side that had as their answers numbers between zero and nine:

Above: the rocks in the park.

The numbers on the rocks corresponded to the four digits in a combination lock I set:

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... and the combination lock was holding shut a treasure chest filled with Pokémon.

We'd used this set up before in our treasure hunts.

We'd used this set up before in our treasure hunts.

This morning, bright and early, I placed the rocks in the elevated acre, then hurried home and wrote out riddles hinting at where the rocks could be found:

From top to bottom: 5 paces south from the trash can, under a bench, by a sculpture of a fallen leaf, at the foot of the stairs.  

From top to bottom: 5 paces south from the trash can, under a bench, by a sculpture of a fallen leaf, at the foot of the stairs.  

And then I let the kids try and decipher the clues as they looked for the rocks. I tried getting the hunt as a livecast, but I couldn't trim it right. But here it is anyway! Spoiler alert: they solved it and got the prizes! 

Forgot to post these the past few days, but still keeping up with it.  

Forgot to post these the past few days, but still keeping up with it.  

July 18th - Daddycamp day six

Today was a pretty frustrating day of Daddycamp, to be honest. I had an idea of how to make the bot Zephyr and I were working on more fun by adding in some more sketches of ZRR-Bot's face as it shows "emotion", and Zephyr did a great job in sketching them out:

And then we did a lot of work making a separate introductory conversation for ZRR-Bot where he could tell users all about what a chatbot is and why he made one, but I DIDN'T SAVE IT for some dumb reason and the whole thing got erased. Grrr. We'll do it again tomorrow, I guess.

Otherwise, I had kind of planned doing another Architecture Walk to look at some interesting buildings around Wall Street, but it was too hot and the kids were too grumpy about walking around. So we just went to the playground and I gave them baths after (which I hadn't done in about two weeks - oops).

Tomorrow should be better: it's a treasure hunt day!

July 17th - MUSEUM MONDAY at the Guggenheim!

Back at it, this time at the Guggenheim! Here's what we were looking for:

The Guggenheim is probably the best designed building in New York City, and is an intuitive wonder... assuming you start in the elevator, go to the top, and wind your way down the spiral. Fortunately, a lot of the works on our hunt were at the top, so we hit them right away and gave the kids an immediate feeling of accomplishment. They also picked up on a bunch of art and the way it made them feel:

Zephyr found Giacometti's Woman With Her Throat Cut to be weird. Probably because it looks like a bug, but it's definitely unsettling. 

Zephyr found Giacometti's Woman With Her Throat Cut to be weird. Probably because it looks like a bug, but it's definitely unsettling. 

Lyric was into these tree people (tree-ple)  in Delvaux's Break of Day. 

Lyric was into these tree people (tree-ple)  in Delvaux's Break of Day. 

Archipenko's Vase Woman II has a sort of Lego-hand crescent for a head, which surprised Zephyr  

Archipenko's Vase Woman II has a sort of Lego-hand crescent for a head, which surprised Zephyr  

Yeah, I think they might have been trying to fit feelings they could name into pieces just to knock things off the hunt, but I think it got them looking internally at themselves while looking externally at art. 

They both found this Baziotes Night Figure No. 1 to be "cool". It's certainly jazzy.  

They both found this Baziotes Night Figure No. 1 to be "cool". It's certainly jazzy.  

Lyric was kind of dancing to Kandinsky paintings, which was oddly perfect

Lyric was kind of dancing to Kandinsky paintings, which was oddly perfect

Gabo constructivism I found to be pretty cool. Zephyr said it made him happy, and there was an "oddly satisfying" energy around it. 

Gabo constructivism I found to be pretty cool. Zephyr said it made him happy, and there was an "oddly satisfying" energy around it. 

Zephyr found this Franz Marc to be sad. It made me look at it differently.  

Zephyr found this Franz Marc to be sad. It made me look at it differently.  

Lyric found Picasso's blue period sad. More of a traditionalist answer! 

Lyric found Picasso's blue period sad. More of a traditionalist answer! 

One thing that certainly surprised the kids: Maurizio Cattelan's gold toilet called America.  

One thing that certainly surprised the kids: Maurizio Cattelan's gold toilet called America.  

The drawing challenges worked out well. Zephyr wanted to draw some Mondrian pieces (because I think he thought it would be easy) but I tried to show them the little choices in thickness of line and color Mondrian used to balance his canvases.  

Zephyr found something calming in Mondrian's De Stijl pieces.  

Zephyr found something calming in Mondrian's De Stijl pieces.  

We also tried drawing a Brancusi sculpture. Again, it looked simple on the outset, but trying to accurately capture simplicity reveals how layered it can be. I was able to show them how to see light and shadow well by having them draw this.  

Zephyr thought it looked like a high heel and Lyric thought it looked like a banana. 

Zephyr thought it looked like a high heel and Lyric thought it looked like a banana. 

Drawing the architecture of the Guggenheim is surprisingly difficult. It doesn't really correspond to what you have in your mind as what an architectural space is: ceilings and floors are at an angle and everything blends into each other. It's a great way to appreciate how groundbreaking this work was. Zephyr drew the outside, I tried to draw an interior, and I think Lyric started drawing and got lost. 

Lyric chose the eye pool at the base of the Guggenheim as what made him feel calm. Not sure if I ever noticed it was an eye before. 

Lyric chose the eye pool at the base of the Guggenheim as what made him feel calm. Not sure if I ever noticed it was an eye before. 

By the time we got to the figure challenge the kids were pretty spent. But we tried on this awesome painting of Orpheus and his lyre! 

Lyric on right, Lyre on left

Lyric on right, Lyre on left

Another full Museum Monday. Next up: MoMA on the 31st!

July 13th - Daddycamp day four

So today... kind of a washout. The kids started the morning in a grumpy mood, not giving full effort to reading or bot making. And then I got the kids all set to go swimming and then it turned out the community center wouldn't let us swim during the hours they were running a camp. So we kind of wandered around for a while until we stopped in Tom Otterness' installation The Real World (which we call Penny Land). 

They started wading in the fountain and I didn't stop them.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

They started wading in the fountain and I didn't stop them.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

I tried making up a hunt on the spot, where the kids tried to find the following:

  • A vacuum cleaner Monster
  • A turtle with a top hat
  • A rotary phone
  • A law book
  • Humpty Dumpty
  • A rook
  • The grim reaper

But Lyric got all crabby when Zephyr wouldn't let him win and it didn't really take off. Y'know, they're not all gonna be great days. It just felt like we were going uphill all day. We'll try it again next week, and go swimming at the right time and junk.  

Zephyr remembered the name "Tom Otterness" by using the mnemonic of envisioning a dad we know named Tom and an otter together in a big nest.  

Zephyr remembered the name "Tom Otterness" by using the mnemonic of envisioning a dad we know named Tom and an otter together in a big nest.  

July 12th - Daddycamp day three

Another day of Daddycamp down... Zephyr and I finished a first pass ("beta test") of his bot, Lyric had some good reading time with Nana, I got to clean up the plumbing disaster, we had the biggest Pokémon Adventure ever (and I was able to teach the kids the correct way to play with toys), and we cooked together. A full day! 

About Zephyr's bot: this is a first pass, we're gonna do a lot more with this and train it so it becomes more robust. Ideally we'll learn a bit more about the functionality of octane.ai on the way. But you can start talking to it here, or scan this code:

Still not entirely sure HOW one scans a Facebook Messenger code, but that's coming.

Still not entirely sure HOW one scans a Facebook Messenger code, but that's coming.

Lyric had a much better day reading with Nana after I asked him to put in a little more effort, and then after they had lunch with Grandpa, I took them to the water park at Pier 25 for a Pokémon Adventure, where we all played together with action figures.

They started by trying to fight the action figures by just mashing them into each other, but then when Zephyr accidentally mashed his figure into mine and hit me in the face, I showed them how to have more fun by using our imaginations to see the fighting effects, without having the figures touch. This led to a WAY MORE FUN playtime. I know there's not supposed to be a wrong way to play, but I felt like it was some kind of a breakthrough to teach the kids not to just crush figures together, like it showed how imaginative play can be more fulfilling. I also figured out a new way to push them INSANELY high on a swing and we made a quick Instagram movie with the Pokémon figures we brought:

Pokémon Adventure... the movie! By Zephyr and Lyric, a Daddycamp film #morningfunmanifesto #pokemon #filmmaking

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At the end of the day, we broke out our vegetable spiralizer and as one kid took their piano lessons the other helped me make beet pasta with sautéed beet greens and artichoke pesto. I was just kind of winging it but it actually turned out pretty yummy! And then to cap the day off we all wrote what we learned, and Mommy joined in:

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