WordCamp Miami was a complete success! The kids had a blast, and so did the parents. If you missed Kids Camp, or my talk on Kids and code here are links to download my slides. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for joining me and see everyone next year!
This year marks the 2nd Annual WordCamp US and the first year that we brought J with us. We flew in on Wednesday for the Friday/Saturday conference and we stayed until Monday evening. We wrapped a bunch of fun into the trip as well. I did my best to anticipate any needs that might have come up throughout our trip. I packed a thick jacket, thin jacket, sweaters, long sleeves, short sleeves, and then some. I made sure he had earplanes, ear plugs, headphones, computer, phone, and books. I tried to think ahead of any needs that might arise and how to prevent, or soothe them. I thought I had it all covered, and I almost did. The one thing I did not account for was overstimulation from smells, sounds, and sights involving food. Everything went great the first couple of days, but when the conference started on Friday things changed. He did great hanging out in the hallways, meeting new people, working on his laptop, and then we went to lunch. Lunch was at Reading Terminal Market, and for those who have never been or heard of it, it is a large marketplace of every kind of food imaginable. The upside is that there is something for everyone, the downside is all the smells and sounds of everything become very overwhelming very quickly. J made it through lunch and we stopped at a place for hot chocolate and he started to get queasy. We stepped outside and J proceeded to vomit. Poor kid, it was all just too much for him to take in. We tried the next day to take everything down a notch for lunch, but he still got sick. Sunday was much better, as we were out and about town and not at a conference with 2000 attendees.
I think it is extremely important to look back on these kinds of trips to identify triggers so that I can help him overcome them, or even prevent them. Not all triggers can be avoided, but as a parent I think it is important to prepare my kiddo for how to combat these triggers. It is also important to praise our kiddos for all the hard work they put in to making progress. In the moment of chaos it is really easy to notice all the negative going on, but it is important to take a step back and realize how far our kids have come, and that they are learning to cope. J worked really hard this weekend on making sure that he managed his anxieties so that he could have a good time. This was a big deal! All in all I came out of this weekend proud of J beyond belief! He had a blast, and I know the weekend was not easy, but he took it all in stride! I have never been more happy to call him my son! Here are some photos from our fun this weekend!
Wow! Another Successful WordCamp US has come and gone. This year there were lots of fun things to do, people to meet, parties to attend, and lots to learn. From the time the airplanes wheels touched ground in Philadelphia to the time we arrived back at the airport to fly home there was no lack of things to do or fun to be had. Philadelphia is home to so many wondrous historical sites. This year we had the joy of being able to bring the whole family, and this provided a plethora of learning experiences for our 10 year old. WordCamps are a great time to catch up with friends in the WordPress community and to make new ones. Below is the highlights from our journey this week during WordCamp US 2016.
We arrived in Philadelphia to a cold, wet and windy day. Our original plan was to check out the German Christmas Village at City Hall, the Macy’s Christmas Displays and Dinner at Carmen’s Cheesesteaks. While we were able to still attend the Macy’s Christmas displays and have dinner at Carmen’s, the weather prohibited us from being able to enjoy the Christmas Village. Carmen’s was absolutely delicious. The gooey cheese wiz and tender steak were a great combination with the caramelized onions, peppers and mushrooms. The seasoning used made the entire thing absolutely wonderful. Carmen’s is located inside the Reading Terminal Market which provides access to some of the most amazing food vendors in the area. You can find everything from meat, produce or seafood stands to chocolate, wine and beer. The smells that waft through the area lead you straight to some of the amazing food inside.
Macy’s has an amazing display at their Center City location. There is a light show that is narrated by Julie Andrews, and the music and lights are timed for a very visually pleasing show. Then they send you upstairs to see a life sized walk through of the Charles Dickens Novel “A Christmas Carol” This has music, narration, and placards throughout that takes you into the books. This walkthrough was absolutely amazing!
After a long day of travel these less intensive activities were exactly what we needed to help settle us in for the days ahead.
We woke up totally ready to conquer the sites today. The list for today was Liberty Bell, Seaport Museum, and the US Mint. We started our day at the Mint, and it began with an interactive tour. US law prohibits any photography being taken inside the Mint, which means unfortunately there is no way to share that journey with you. We left the Mint and walked down to to National Park area that includes the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It was really awesome to see the history of the Liberty Bell and all that went in to the founding of our amazing country.
We moved from the Liberty Bell to walk past Independence Hall. There are museums offered for Independence Hall, however, this was not on our list for this trip. Make sure if you are going to try to visit that you get there early and get your tickets in the main Independence Visitors Center. The tickets are free, but are time stamped. Our next stop was the Seaport Museum.
The Seaport Museum has an interactive indoor museum and 2 ships outside. We were able to learn about submersibles, the history of ships and shipping, and navy history. There was a life size ship that showed you how to raise a sail and how ships wheels work. There is even a workshop that has ships being restored in it and you can watch the workers work on the restoration projects. The museum itself was pretty interesting, but the ships themselves were even better. The first ship we went through was a submarine called the Becuna. It was a navy sub that has been brought in and restored. We were able to walk through almost the entire ship, and we learned a lot about how the Navy enlisted and officers work. The second ship we went into was a Steamboat used in the Navy in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s; Cruiser: Olympia. It was the ship that transported the Unknown Soldier to Arlington and was not used in an actual war. The ship was the only surviving Spanish American War ship and no sister ships were ever built.
After a long day of adventure we decided to go to a pretty awesome pizza place called Snaps. You went down the line and picked your ingredients, all organic and farm to table, and they made us all individual pizzas. The great part was even the sodas were healthy. I usually only eat a slice or two, but this pizza was so good, I ate the whole pie! If you are headed to Philly, check them out!
Our last full day in Philly was earmarked as a day of fun. We spent the day at the Eastern State Penitentiary and the Franklin Institute. Eastern State Pen was a great history lesson as the jail was opened in the late 1800’s and closed in 1971. We learned about why jails are built the way they are, how the guards and inmates lived, and a bit about crime and prisons today. Jared found it interesting that what happens to us, how we live, and how we are educated plays a big role in if we grow up to be criminals or not.
The Franklin Institute is one of the best Science Centers we have been to in the US so far. The hands on exhibits were intriguing, and we practically had to pry Jared away from them. It was a huge museum and it took us the entire afternoon to see it all. We learned about mechanics, our brain, our heart, exercise, and so much more. Google had a special autonomous robotics exhibit that we learned about programming robots, and how robots are built to assist with everyday things, not just in factories. If you are traveling to Philly with a kid, or if you are a kid at heart, the Franklin Institute is worth the price. We ended our day with packing up to head home knowing that our next day would be a short one with an afternoon flight.
Today we say goodbye to Philadelphia. Jared didn’t want to leave, but he also wanted to get home to his friends and he even said he missed doing his schoolwork (homeschool win!). We went to Reading Market for one more round of cheesesteaks at Carmen’s and walked around the city taking pictures and making memories. It wasn’t long before we had to head back to the hotel. We made a pit stop at Starbucks and we got Mochas and Hot Chocolate to sit relax and talk about the weekend. It is so nice that Jared is old enough to sit and have these conversations now. Chris, Jared and I all had a marvelous trip, and we each had things we loved about the trip. We are excited to plan our trip to Nashville for WordCamp US 2017, and to see what the new year will bring us as a family, a business, and as members of the great community of WordPress.
My little guy has his own WordPress website, and he loves to share his writing assignments with others. We had the opportunity to attend our local WordCamp recently that allowed him to help other kids start their own WordPress sites. He had a blast sharing something he is so passionate about with others. WordCamps are great places for anyone to learn more about using WordPress, and one thing that I love about my local camp is that we offer a camp geared just for kids. More and more camps are expanding and doing KidsCamps, so check your local camp to see if they do as well. [Read more…]
We are getting ready to head to Philadelphia, even Teddy is getting ready. This trip is going to be an absolute blast. We have 5 days to see the city, and we are going to see as much as we can. We happen to be going to a conference over the weekend, but we still have 4 days to play. We are planning on Philly Cheesesteaks, The Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall. We also are going to try to see how coins are made at the US Mint. Last time we were there the mint was done for the day so we did not get to see a whole lot. We are wrapping this trip into our homeschool and we have been studying the formation of America. Today, J and I made lists of what we need to pack and what we need to purchase. I see a trip to Walmart or Target in our near future. Being that the trip is in December, we will need jackets and layers. The high will be around 40 degrees while we are there, and we are used to a high of 70 in the winter. J is super excited and feels that this trip will be a breeze since we recently went to DC. I will post pictures when we get back so that you can see our trip and all the fun we had.
Everyday is a day of lessons in our house. It does not matter if it is a school day or not someone is learning something. This week the lessons that have been learned were not academic, but rather life lessons. My son came home this week to tell me all about his new friend at church. He told me that he and his new friend have so much in common. I was curious what all he was referring to. He told me that both he and his friend have people from the state who come by their house to check up on them to make sure they are safe. At this point I was intrigued. I inquired as to what else they had in common and he let me know that they have both had a rough couple of years. [Read more…]