Monday, November 21, 2011

Third Annual MIT Splash! Weekend

We are back from our third annual weekend in Cambridge, where the kids go to participate in MIT's Splash! weekend. This was Olivia's third and Adam's first, so there was some extra excitement and a bit of nervousness, this time around. Olivia was looking forward to some company and Adam was glad to have his sister be his guide around campus.

Good Morning from MIT Splash!

We're always amazed at the amount of people that arrive at MIT, early Saturday morning for registration. We see car plates from as far as Virginia and New York, each year. This line was long, but it moved very quickly and the morning sun was lighting up the buildings around us, beautifully.

a long, cold line for registration

Once inside, Olivia and Adam confirmed their registration, received their schedules and consulted with each other about classes and buildings. They would have a few classes together and would be able to meet during the day, too.

figuring out buildings and schedules
Ray and Maria Stata Center

With Adam and Olivia safely off to their International Education Lab class at 9am, Alex and I had a whole day before us, so we decided to return to Harvard Square and putter around some shops and get some lunch. We wouldn't see the kids again until 6pm. It was a gorgeous morning and it's such a pretty area of Cambridge.

we're off to Harvard Square in search of coffee that isn't Barstucks.

Alex and I tracked down coffee at a local cafe, visited the giant bookstore, admired pretty things in shops and had a delicious lunch, again at Flat Patties. It might sound really dull, but Alex and I really enjoy the easy comfort of spending a day out together and we always get each other laughing over our observations. We're one of those couples that walks down the street holding hands.

By late afternoon, we were both feeling our busy week before, catching up with us and with visions of pillows under our heads and a chance to nap, we returned to our hotel until it was time to retrieve the kids.

Rested and refreshed, we made our way through throngs of young people at MIT, to meet with Olivia between her evening classes. Originally, Olivia had planned to be in classes until 10pm, but her schedule changed some and so we waited for Adam to get out of his last class, which turned out to be one he loved, called Intro to Programming: Scratch.

in between classes, catching up
view across town
a lovely night
reunited father and son

With both the kids satisfied and full of tales about their day, but with bellies rumbling, we took off, in search of dinner. Walking across the MIT campus, it's not difficult to picture scenes from science fiction, labs and white coats and experiments gone wrong.

things one sees while on the MIT campus

Since Olivia has never been able to explore with us on these trips, we took her to Harvard Square for dinner and to browse some of her favorite shops. It was really good to reconnect with both of the kids at the end of a long day. By the time were were snuggled into pjs and beds in our room, we were all giggling at Alex's impressions of a certain tv personality (he nails it) or his random observations about things, lovingly long referred to as Alexisms in our family.

The next morning, we had yet another early start, and much more somber one, with the news and images of police brutality at UC Davis (and across the nation) on our minds. Over breakfast, discussion was very much about democracy, The Bill of Rights and what happens next when our system of checks and balances seem to be no longer working. As upsetting as that discussion and topic was, it was important to have and it's yet another example of why unschooling works for us; it's being able to take the time to have conversations like it, regardless of what else might be on our schedule.

With extra hugs and one final run through of their schedules, the kids were off again for a full day of classes, many of which they would have together, which pleased them both, I think. Alex and I took ourselves to Ikea, where we dreamed up yet more home improvement projects and lingered over a delicious lunch. With a few more hours to kill and every corner of Ikea explored, we thought we'd stop in at the nearby Costco just to see what we could see. (We've never been). Again, we quietly riffed on the absurd selection and sheer size of items offered and a couple of times were doubled over with laughter. The cart that Alex insisted we walk around with to blend in, remained empty. Oddly, we just don't have a need for a gallon of Basic Cheddar Cheese Sauce. (We wondered, is there an Elaborate Cheese Sauce also available, besides just Basic?) Mmmmmm...

gross things we saw at Costco, yesterday

On our return trip to MIT, we enjoyed the sights of people and city lights and beautiful architecture in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood.

Berklee School of Music
Charles River, Boston

We parked on Vassar Street, near the Stata Center and the kids eventually met us there after their final class. We're proud of Adam for all his firsts at MIT--navigating the campus, choosing and attending classes, tracking down lunch. Additionally, we're proud of Olivia's competency with all those things and for being such a loving and helpful guide to Adam. We admire their willingness and ability to be free-range and independent for an entire weekend in the city, too. (What is with all those parents hanging out in the designated parent lounges for eight or more hours during Splash? They look miserable, like people trapped in an airport, waiting out a blizzard.)

end of MIT Splash! Happy to see each other

We hit the road for the trip home, stopped for pizza and got home to pets that seemed overjoyed to see us. It was another successful MIT weekend and I know we'll hear yet more accounts of their days, their teachers and the subject material over this week. At some point we'll need to bake a pie or three, for our family gathering on Thanksgiving, in just four days. November, you're such a busy month!

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