Mom of two, Alice Finch, wanted in on her kids' playtime. So she combined the specialist knowledge of a true Harry Potter fan with a wizard's touch with LEGOs to create a giant model of Hogwarts so magical it's gone viral.
On first glance, the castle might not look completely kid-friendly -- but Finch explains in an interview with LEGO fan blog The Brothers Brick that her sons were the inspiration for her creative efforts (and they helped a little bit with Hogwarts, too).
In the interview, she says that after "spending a lot of time with my older son in our Lego room," she decided she wanted to do some LEGO building of her own.
I haven’t built since I was a kid and once I started building again, it occurred to me that building with my son had important implications. We were spending time together doing something creative, learning techniques and sharing ideas in a very productive way, and, although I didn’t really think about it at the time, I was showing him that moms can be pretty darn good at putting bricks together too.
While the fantasy books that inspired her may take up only one shelf, Finch's LEGO Hogwarts castle -- which she describes on Flickr as "architecturally accurate and completely playable" -- takes up 40.
Kotaku Australia says "it might be the most impressive LEGO construction ever made by a single person." It's so big, in fact, that Finch told The Brothers Brick she doesn't know exactly how many blocks are in the structure (around 400,000 is her estimate) -- or how much it cost ("I haven’t been keeping particular track, partly because it has been over such a long period of time," she told HuffPost over email). The Seattle mom, whose kids are 4 and 9, does write that it took 12 months to build -- and told News.com.au the project was so strenuous she strained her knees and sometimes had to wear band-aids.
The structure won the People's Choice and Best in Show awards at the Seattle-based BrickCon Convention last fall. It was shown again recently at Seattle's Emerald City Comicon, where Finch spoke to GeekMom blogger Kelly Knox about her building process and the other LEGO recreations she's worked on (including scenes from "The Lord of the Rings") -- as well as one young conference attendee's moving reaction to the project.
Finch is not the only Muggle mom who's worked to bring Hogwarts to life for her kids, of course. J.K. Rowling herself submitted plans last year for Hogwarts-like treehouses outside her Edinburgh home.
See some scenes from Finch's LEGO creation in the gallery below, and click over to her Flickr page for more.