Ryan got back from his trip on Friday afternoon and to help him relax back into the rhythms of family life we had scheduled three! fun! family! activities! for Saturday. We hit the ground running at 8:00 AM with the pancake breakfast to support the high school band (I LOVED HIGH SCHOOL BAND AND THIS WAS THE ONE FOR *MY* HIGH SCHOOL). Pancakes were a good way to get everyone motivated to GET IN THE FREAKING CAR OMGah.
It also enabled Wes to realize his lifelong dream of dipping sausage into chocolate syrup.
Wes had soccer after that which is why he appears in his soccer uniform in all of these pictures. Ryan took James and Mary to watch while I headed for the treadmill for my olympic racewalking and Charley watched the Food Network with a group of senior citizens.
The biggest event of the day happened after soccer, though, because the huge university in our town has a big open house for K12 kids every year. We've gone a couple of times before and learned some tricks, like bring a picnic so that when someone starts freaking out with the hangry you can make a sandwich on the spot instead of standing in line with six hundred high school kids from across the state. The other trick is to not attempt to do science AND engineering AND performing arts AND humanities because you will spend your entire day walk walk walking around the campus and you won't get to see as much. So we took our picnic and found a good parking spot and set out. The kids were like little electrons, running actual circles around us as we pushed Mary in the stroller all the way across campus to this dorm that was giving tours so we could show the kids the tiny room they'd get to share with a stranger if they worked hard in school. They were highly impressed with the loft bed, probably because it was a good seven feet tall and promised certain death if they fell out of it.
After that we headed back to the engineering and science area because OBVIOUSLY and also because that is ALLLL Charley wanted to do. We found a nice picnic table close to some of the activities and got a few calories in everyone before they went to go play. Wes diligently built a block tower as tall as he is. Later it started to tip and instead of getting upset he kicked it the rest of the way over then cheered. All the students around him cheered with him.
Charley built with Legos.
James got a long lesson in construction from one of the students, who was incredibly patient and kind. James loved it.
When Mary saw Ryan start to put the wooden blocks back in the bin she screamed to get out of her stroller. Mary loves putting things in bins. Once I let her out she filled an entire bin and asked for another. #thanksmontessori
Later, Charley got to experience liquefaction by standing in a bucket of wet sand while a grad student hit the bucket with a sledgehammer. He sank down to his ankles! SCIENCE.
James got to stand on top of this box full of sand then slide down with it when they opened the door. The Sunday School song "The wise man built his house upon the rock" now has new meaning for him.
Later the kids (and Ryan) spent a long time looking at motors in the mechanical engineering building. They also had a nuclear energy exhibit with mouse traps and ping pong balls that had Wes utterly transfixed for thirty minutes before it was accidentally set off and shot ping pong balls and mouse traps shooting out in all directions. It was pretty awesome. And probably a good reminder about why we treat nuclear energy so carefully.
Mary took her picnic on the road.
I don't have any pictures of the ten-foot tall trebuchet that shot water balloons at the kids but it was pretty sweet. Wes liked doing the shooting and being hit with water equally. He stood with a pack of kids who screamed every time the balloon was launched and cheered when someone got hit. We headed back over to physics to take core samples of cupcakes next.
Then went up to the roof to check out the telescopes (and force everyone to take a family picture). James very bravely touched an astronaut mask, which he is terrified of. Wes engaged a girls' honor society from a nearby town. Charley spent a long time talking to the grad students about UV light.
And then before we knew it it was time to walk back over to the stadium for marching band practice. The walk was far, FAR, FAR for everyone's little legs. There was no running in circles, only resigned trudging. James kept yawning audibly and telling us sleepily "College is FUN". I thought we'd have some time to rest once we got there, but we had to wait in this huge crowd instead. The kids laid on the concrete floor eating the last of the apples from our picnic. Then they opened the gates and we got to walk down onto the field, which gave everyone their second wind. Charley is too cool to do an endzone dance.
Then we learned how to march with the band and I attempted to not get all fangirl on the actual real live band members. IT WAS SO COOL. Here Charley is being very frustrated that no one else is taking this seriously.
Mary was a total natural.
Wes and Mary got restless so Ryan took them back to an open area and did...something.
And then they announced that it was time to march out of the stadium with the band and before I knew what was happening Charley was running at full speed into the crowd. James and I scrambled to catch up with him and found him right behind the band, marching along with his hook 'em horns in the air. He (and I) was (were) having SO MUCH FUN (reliving the glory days) that we decided to keep marching even though James was exhausted. We blindly followed the band up hills and around corners and I kept thinking we were almost to our destination. Right when I thought we couldn't go another step I checked my phone and saw a text from Ryan that said "Wes tired, meet you at the car." Which was fine except James was completely exhausted and I'm not supposed to carry him and also I didn't know where I was or how to get to the car. After some aimless walking and directions from a policeman (we had parked sort of close to a major campus landmark, hurray foresight!) I parked the kids on a bench and examined a map for several minutes before setting off hopefully down a leafy pedestrian street, past a fountain, down several flights of stairs, two more blocks, then turned left and realized we still had like three blocks to go. Both kids were totally awesome but they were fading fast. James was lagging so far behind we had to stop every twenty-five yards or so to let him catch up. It was like climbing Mount Everest except horizontal. I REALLY wanted to carry him but I also really didn't want to screw up my back again because I had dinner plans with friends that night. Finally, FINALLY, we were less than a block away when I saw Ryan pull out of the parking lot to come get us. We were all VERY happy to see the car.
I threw the remainder of our picnic into the backseat and we headed for the hills. We got home at 6:30 and two kids were too exhausted to even eat dinner. Charley sleepily thanked us profusely for taking him to the college and James repeated how much fun college was (he used to think it was a punishment). Wes said he loved "EVERYTHING". Mission accomplished.