Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory

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!

IMG_9677.JPG

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!

IMG_9679.JPG

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:

IMG_9621.JPG

... 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

A post shared by Robert Sosin (@chompyduchamp) on

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:

IMG_9568.JPG

July 11th - Daddycamp day two

Today we started up Zephyr's chatbot, gave Lyric some dedicated reading time with his 91 year old Nana, and took an architecture walk to appreciate the Beaux Arts styles of two Cass Gilbert masterpieces.  

For Zephyr's chatbot we established a Facebook page and filled it out with an image of ZRR-Bot, which stands for "Zephyr's Reading Recommendation Bot", (pronounced "Zurbot", but you can call it "Zurby"). Zephyr drew a picture of ZRR-Bot for its image icon:

The weird string arms were something Zephyr insisted upon.  

The weird string arms were something Zephyr insisted upon.  

And then we started building a conversation for ZRR-Bot on octane.ai. Hopefully we'll have the start of a working model by the end of the week. 

Meanwhile, Lyric was supposed to be reading with his Nana, but when we picked him up later we found he'd been unwilling to go there with her and resistant to reading. I wasn't thrilled with the effort there from him, but that's Lyric sometimes - he doesn't always perform on cue. I think if we keep at it we'll get him to a point where he gets into it. 

Also meanwhile, my kitchen sink started spewing out black goo because of some plumbing problem, forcing me to pass off the kids for a little while to their grandparents for lunch. Yuck city. 

But after the plumber came, we were able to take a walk (with Grandma Andi) to see Cass Gilbert's US Customs House and Woolworth building, and talk a bit about the architectural and sculptural details that made them great:

The three of us under the statue of the personification of America at the Cass Gilbert US Customs House.  

The three of us under the statue of the personification of America at the Cass Gilbert US Customs House.  

I love these two buildings and the conversation they have with one another, and I was thrilled to share that with the kids. Plus it was great to see it with my Mom, and I even learned a new architectural term...

Oh yeah, and Lyric's tongue apparently caught on fire.  

Oh yeah, and Lyric's tongue apparently caught on fire.  

July 10th - MUSEUM MONDAY at the Met!

So Daddycamp is underway, Museum Monday #1 is in the books, and so far WE ARE CRUSHING IT. We set a personal best for time spent at a museum yesterday, found a needed Pokémon for our pokédex, and learned something along the way!

So one thing I've found is that a great way to keep kids interested in a museum visit is to make it into a scavenger hunt. Here's the scavenger hunt we did yesterday:

We replaced Demeter with Poseidon on the fly (on Zephyr's suggestion) because he's way easier to find in art.

We replaced Demeter with Poseidon on the fly (on Zephyr's suggestion) because he's way easier to find in art.

Another hot tip: people think museums are closed on Mondays, so it's a great time to go and get a minimal crowd experience. We hit the Egyptian wing first to knock off the Sphinx of Hateshput and (for the first time in a while) got to explore it without being mobbed.

Something sphinx in here!

Something sphinx in here!

Next we hit a gallery I'd never been in (in the Thai art wing) to find the 18-armed Durga.I used the met website to find the galleries the art was in... I don't consider that cheating, it was still a challenge to find things. You just have to get to the gallery and then tell the kids to search for the specific pieces.

This gallery was on the rarely-used third floor of the Met. It had a special elevator and everything

This gallery was on the rarely-used third floor of the Met. It had a special elevator and everything

We had lunch at the American Wing Café, and the Daddycamp "no snacking" policy paid immediate dividends when the kids ate (and enjoyed) a quinoa/arugula/tri-color carrot salad for lunch! Plus I got to tell them there was a god around in the American Wing atrium, and got to watch from afar as they searched and used their reading skills to find the statue of Diana/Artemis. We headed out for a quick playground break, but found the Perseus/Medusa statue on the way out:

Excellent Gorgon face from my man Z.

Excellent Gorgon face from my man Z.

Lyric enjoyed pulling Zephyr's hair a bit too much, so I had them reverse the position to teach Lyric about reaping what you sow. It looks like Zephyr was gentle here, but he got a few good yanks in before this, trust me.

Lyric enjoyed pulling Zephyr's hair a bit too much, so I had them reverse the position to teach Lyric about reaping what you sow. It looks like Zephyr was gentle here, but he got a few good yanks in before this, trust me.

After hitting the playground on 85th and 5th (Fun spot if you can deal with losing track of where your kids are exactly), we went resumed the hunt. The kids put up a little resistance, but the pull of finishing the scavenger hunt (and getting the associated prize points) did the trick to get them back in it. We hit the Greek and Roman galleries looking for gods and found a Hermes and another Artemis, but kept it moving. Constant motion and not lingering too long kept it interesting for the kids.

Passing through the Oceania gallery, we found this giant 20 foot monster headdress from Papua New Guinea as "something that surprises you":

Seriously, this thing looked like some early Tim Burton jams. The tiny arms and legs MADE IT.

Seriously, this thing looked like some early Tim Burton jams. The tiny arms and legs MADE IT.

Next we hit the Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçon exhibit, and if you're reading this before September 4th 2017, SEE THAT SHOW, yo. It's outstanding.

FLuorescent lighting: oddly beautiful in here.

FLuorescent lighting: oddly beautiful in here.

Next we hit the modern galleries and Lyric found Roy Liechtenstein's "Stepping Out" all by himself:

Man oh man was he proud of himself for finding it.

Man oh man was he proud of himself for finding it.

So with 5 out of 6 pictures found, we intensified our hunt for Gods and Goddesses in European paintings. We found a few Venuses (Veni?), and this awesome Odillion Rédon picture of Pandora we thought Mommy would love. So we all sat and drew a version of it:

It looked like the kids were losing steam at this point, so we decided to just find the last picture (Pan by Riccio) and call it a day. But a funny thing happened in that last gallery: it turned out there were plenty of gods depicted in art there! We picked up a Minerva, a Mars, a Vulcan, a Jupiter, and a Neptune! That just left a Bacchus and a Juno, and Zephyr found a Bacchus in the next gallery! So re-energized, we consulted the met website to find our last missing goddess: Juno. And it turned out there was a Juno andiron in a secret gallery way in the back of the museum!

The look of victory!

The look of victory!

We completed the scavenger hunt, and the kids were AMPED about it! I awarded them 50 prize points each, because when things were hard, they tried harder and didn't give up.

We left a little after 4 (more than 6 hours at the museum!) and in a sign of approval from the gods, found a desperately needed Pokémon, Forretress. Thank you based NYC Pokemap. We walked through Central Park and went to friend's soccer birthday, and when we finally got home wrote down what we had learned that day:

Seriously going to do this every day now. A day you learn something new is a good day.

Seriously going to do this every day now. A day you learn something new is a good day.

So one day of Daddycamp down, more to come! Stay tuned!

Daddy Camp begins July 10th!

Okay, starting a new experiment here on the #MorningFunManifesto blog... 

I'm taking some time this summer to run a mini-camp experience for the kids in NYC! Highlights will include:

  • Museum Monday scavenger hunts at New York's finest cultural institutions!
  • Zephyr and I making a chatbot together with Octane.ai!
  • Lyric getting some prime dedicated reading time with his Nana! 
  • Making some films with a SUPER SPECIAL GUEST STAR (hint: 🥞) 
  • and lots more!

I'm establishing a few ground rules for the kids, in order to give a little structure to the experience. 

There's going to be a few weeks off in the middle as the kids go to a real camp in the Poconos and we vacation on the beach in Connecticut, but otherwise it should be a crazy ride. Again, it's entirely experimental, I haven't done anything like it before, and I'm somewhat making it up as I go along. I'm going to try and document it here on the blog and with the #MorningFunManifesto hashtag on social media, so join me and follow along! And hit me up if you want to join in on any Museum Mondays. 

Summer fun ahoy!