Posted in Random

Checking In

We are in the middle of the holiday craziness, the year is almost over and the last few months seem to have flown by.

This has been a roller-coaster of a year for me. I struggled with a low in my chronic depression and anxiety for a few months which affected my creativity. One of my coping mechanisms is distracting my brain by getting busy. So I put energy into my business by going through the process or renewing some certifications, getting some new ones, revamping my business website and adding a blog to my business.

That has paid off in increased confidence and some new clients which has left this website in the backburner longer than I’d like.

Homeschooling is going but it feels like we’ve been coasting on autopilot for a while. Zen, my Kindergartener, is mostly unschooled because his learning style is not traditional books compatible. It amazes me how much he is still learning though. Meanwhile, Shammy, my second grader, has been doing well with mostly independent work. I give him a to-do list, he finishes it whenever he wants throughout the day and I check it that evening. I still make sure to leave him plenty of free time for “unschooling”, for example right now he is writing a comic book just for the fun of it so I am not about to interrupt that to give him worksheets to complete.

I have a lot of resources that we haven’t used this year because that’s just not where my drive and motivation have been lately. I know that this is all part of the cycle of life and I know that we’ll circle back to that eventually, in the meantime at least we are maintaining steady progress so we don’t fall behind.

The Homeschool Scouts group that we were in has unfortunately fizzled out, and while I “could” take it upon myself to revive it, I have to recognize that my skills aren’t exactly compatible with what is needed and there is no room in my plate for that, the last thing I need is a new source of stress. I just can’t handle stress like I used to.

My volunteer project, the Treasure Coast Homeschooling resource directory and calendar has celebrated it’s first birthday with increased popularity and enough sponsors to pay for itself so I have been gradually making improvements to it as we go.

So that’s it in a nutshell. We are alive, we are well, just busy with life. Wishing you a very happy new year. Meanwhile, you can follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

Posted in Random

Brickfest Live Review

Brickfest Live is a LEGO fan event that travels around the country and sets up for a weekend in each city that it visits. It’s not the only LEGO fan event available but the only one that I have attended in the last decade.

My husband bought me a VIP ticket to the West Palm Beach event as a Mother’s Day gift, he and the kids would have general admission which meant that I could enjoy the event by myself first, I was SO excited!

While my review is of the West Palm Beach event that already passed, from what I have read on other reviews it’s practically the same experience at every location so I decided to write this to help others that may be wondering if the event is worth it.

Based on the website there looked to be a lot to do and I couldn’t wait to experience it all, sadly some parts were disappointing so I will list each feature advertised and what I thought about it.

VIP– Thumps up
Benefits: 1 hour early admission. Lanyard with VIP badge. Bag, exclusive minifig and LEGO accessory pack.
I attended the Sunday event and there were less than 10 VIP guests on line at 9 am so I practically had the entire place to myself. Since it was so empty the organizers allowed my family that was hanging outside waiting for general admission to start to join me early. I liked having the exclusive mini figure, talking to other VIPs the figure is overall the same but the heads are different, mine has a standard face which is a slight bummer but not hard to fix since I have hundreds of LEGO heads in my house. The LEGO accessory pack was a pretty full bag with weapons and other minifig accessories.

Derby– Thumbs Up
Children have 5 minutes to build a car and then the event staff will race them for you. This is a high demand activity so if VIP, make sure to do it before general admission starts. My kids had fun with it.

Glow Zone– Thumbs up
There is a display of glow in the dark builds plus several tables for you to build your glow in the dark creation. I had lots of fun with this.

Theater– Thumbs Down
The website advertised theater and trivia but it was not available at our location.

Architecture– Thumbs up
There is a large skyscraper model with tables to build your own architecture designs. I enjoyed it but not as much as other parts.

Mascots– Thumbs Down
The website advertised this but we didn’t see a single one in the 5 hours that we were at the event

Models– Thumbs Down
The website uses a plural term for this but we only saw 1 model.

Robotics– Thumbs Down
Yet another thing that was advertised but was not at the event. It’s very disappointing because my kids love robotics and were really looking forward to this.

Floor puzzle– Thumbs Up
This was a fun part. You are given a LEGO plate and a diagram to lay out your bricks which will be part of a giant 30,000 piece mosaic for a mystery character. You can come back and do it again. Because I was there early I got to do the very first tile. Shammy and I did it about 7 times and loved it.

Build wall– Thumbs Up
This is fun free play for the kids, just bins of bricks and a LEGO wall for them to create whatever they want.

Mini golf– Thumbs Down
This was disappointing, it’s a just a very lame mini golf course that has LEGO bricks glued around the edges. It wasn’t challenging at all and not very “LEGO-y”. My son that loves mini golf wasn’t interested in doing it again after 1 round.

Jr Builders– Thumbs Up
This looked like a fun area for toddlers to play with giant soft bricks and Lego Duplos. Mine were too big so we skipped that area, if you have toddlers, this will probably be their favorite part.

Mosaics– Thumbs Up
I had more fun with this part than my kids did. There are several templates available and you use 1×1 bricks to create the picture and then place it on the wall. The variety of designs seemed limited and although there were several bins full of bricks, some colors were difficult to find.

The Brick Show Experience- Thumbs Up
This is a YouTube Lego show that had a booth at this event, we didn’t stay for the actual show but the kids got to get an autographed photo. It looked like only one of the hosts were present.

Gaming– Thumbs Down
The website advertised LEGO video games but they were not available at our location. This was very disappointing for my youngest as he loves LEGO video games and he was looking forward to trying out new games to request for his birthday.

Space– Thumbs Down
Again, mentioned on the website. Nowhere to be found at the event.

Brick Pit– Thumbs Up
Like a ball pit but with LEGO! All of the bricks were one color and you could build whatever you wanted, my kids instead made brick angels and pretended to swim, they have thick skin!

Marketplace– Thumbs Down
There were only about 7 vendors. I didn’t see any vintage sets sets and only a few custom builds. It was mostly minifigs with outrageous prices. There was a lot of variety in pricing, one vendor had a Darth Maul minifig for $13 while the vendor behind him had what looked like the same minifig for $33. So comparison shopping was a must.

One vendor had current and recently discontinued sets for either MSRP or much higher. I could have gotten the same sets cheaper on Amazon or Ebay. The only vendor that I liked made crafts out of LEGO such as bow ties, earrings, bracelets, Christmas ornaments and more. I mostly shopped from him and the bow ties are so cool that I even got one for myself.

Conclusion

This event is mainly geared for kids so if you are an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) there isn’t as much to do but it can be a fun experience. Admission is very pricey and the regular price was not worth it in my opinion. My husband took advantage of a Flash sale and Groupon deal which saved money but it still felt like a ripoff because so many of the advertised attractions were not offered.

While I had a good time, I don’t know that I would pay to attend again if it returns to my area. It does make me want to check out competing LEGO shows.

Posted in Random

Do you have a plan?

What happens if you are suddenly not available? Can your spouse take over without issue? Do they know where everything is?

That is not the case in my house, while I keep my husband informed, he lets me take care of “administrative things” record keeping, taxes, insurance, kid’s health information, etc. He doesn’t try to commit it all to memory and that is ok, he has enough on his plate. While he remembers their pediatrician’s last name and could Google his phone number, he doesn’t know their insurance details off the top of his head. While he knows that Zen has multiple allergies, he can’t recite the list from memory. This is ok while I am around but what if suddenly I am not?

I recently witnessed an acquaintance going through this challenge when his wife suddenly became unavailable for several weeks. I don’t want my husband to go through the same.

So I have set out to figure out a way to make sure that if I have an accident or suddenly become seriously ill that he can know where to find everything without having it memorized.

Some people have “Emergency Binders” but I am too techie for that, I just don’t see myself keeping a binder up to date. So I took inspiration from my USB stick of important info in my bug out bag and set out to make an alternative for which he doesn’t have to remember an encryption password (this is the guy that doesn’t remember his e-mail password).

My solution? A “Cheat Sheet” in the cloud.

There are various options to do this but I choose Google Docs as it was easy to setup “sharing” with his e-mail address and send a link in his e-mail to ensure that he doesn’t have to remember where it is, he just needs to go to his e-mail and find the link to the file or log on to his Google Drive and see it.

Since it’s a cloud file he will always have access to the latest information without me having to e-mail or print a new version every time I make an update.

The document lists essential info including:
– location of important documents such as: birth certificates, social security cards, medical records, house deed, insurance records, tax records, etc
– where to find the key to my documents safe
– contact information for all healthcare providers, insurance and prepaid Legal Plan
– list of allergies, medications, blood types and any other relevant medical history for the kids and I
– details on insurance payments, renewal due dates, etc
– Umbrella School enrollment information and contact info

For security, I didn’t include social security numbers or account login information on this document, instead I reference where he can locate these documents in the house.

 

What is your plan?