Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What I bring to the table...

As our kids' birthdays came close, my wife and I began talking about what we could do for them for gifts this year. Nat was turning 11, and Godzilla would be 7. Every year we take a family trip in leu of throwing a party, and the kids love it. We have done zoos and water parks and resorts and museums, all requiring a long drive, and most needing a night in a hotel (hello, pool!) This year would be no different, as we planned a day at Holiday World in southern Indiana. Apart from the trip, we wanted to give them something that would be fun and used daily around the house, and so we started looking at Lego tables.

Who doesn't love Lego? We have tubs of the little plastic bricks, and no real dedicated place to play with them. The best options are usually either the kitchen table, or the toddler height train table. Seeing as how we like to eat at the kitchen table, and our toddler height toddler likes to put things in his mouth, neither of those options are actually good options for a Lego table for our house.

So, we settled on making a table which would solve those two problems, Pinterest is full of ideas on how to create a table for use with Lego bricks. Unfortunately, most of them include this instruction: "Glue multiple base plates to a table." Have you priced Lego base plates? Have you counted how many you would need to cover a table large enough to actually give your growing kids room to play? The answers to those questions told me to find a better way. So here's my response. 

Why does a Lego table need to have plates glued down? Why turn a play scape into an expensive uni-tasker? Why does this table need to be a permanent fixture in any room in my house? I bought a resin folding banquet table and a few cans of spray paint, and now my kids can play Lego (or anything else they want) in their bedroom (or anywhere else in the house I want to let them). Take a look at how easy it was!

Drop $50 on a folding banquet table, and $3 a can on spray paint. Use old newspaper and that roll of painters tape you have laying around to make sure you get a clean edge. 



Start by taping off a shoreline. Make sure you cover anything you don't want blue in newspaper, then give it a good coat of blue.

Spray paint dries pretty quickly as long as each coat isn't too thick. Leave just a little space beyond your blue water line and tape off the area you want to  become your grassland. Don't forget the newspaper, and paint it green, like those crazy Californians do in a drought!


Spray painting can be messy and your finger may cramp up with excessive coverage if you do it the old fashioned way. Instead, try this tool made by Krylon. It's a trigger handle for your paint cans, and it makes painting a snap. You simply slip it on the top of your can and go. 


Once both sides have been painted, you're left with a narrow strip for your beach. Pick up some yellow craft paint and a brush, and start filling in the white space.


This table didn't have a sharp edge to end the color at, so I just wrapped it right down the side for a clean finish.

Before setting your kids loose on your new piece of environmental art, add a few coats of clear enamel to protect your finish. The last thing you want, is for your kids' Lego masterpieces to scrape away all your hard (not that hard!) work.



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Unscheduled Sleep Positions IX



Sometimes sleep comes when you need it most, but when you expect it least. E was all set to go for a walk today, but I wasn't ready to leave the house. Instead, we walked circles in the kitchen for about five minutes, and he passed out. I don't expect this to be a long nap, but even 20 minutes will get him back in shape to finish the day without excess meltdowns. This kid has been the best sleeper of the three so far, and I really hope the trend continues.

This particular trick, we learned with Nat, who flat out refused to take naps in her crib. Or sleep at night in her crib. Or sleep at night at all. And so, the stroller nap was invented to help us retain our sanity. Here's hoping this doesn't become a trend with E, as it did with Nat. 

Literally holding my breath...



Friday, July 10, 2015

Stuff My Kids Say XV

"Where do they come up with these ideas? I try to write and all I think up is foxes and dragons!"

Nat - age 10, after watching yet another new creature in Doctor Who. 



Nat started writing stories in fourth grade. She was not a fan of writing until her teacher used her aversion to pen and paper as the impetus to starting a writing club. Nat and her teacher would take turns writing a story, each writing a paragraph or a page and then handing the story to the other to write the next part. This personal attention and enthusiasm about writing sparked her creative nerve and she hasn't stopped writing since.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Boys of Summer

Last week, I took Little E to his first minor league baseball game for a dad meetup. We had fun, sitting on the left field lawn. It was sunny and hot, and the kid was tired before the game was over, but the ballpark was nice and so was the company. I took just a couple of photos, and am planning to take the rest of the family back later this summer, once school lets out. I've been a baseball fan since I was little, and remember going to games with my dad. After sharing the pics of our trip with Nana, she dug out a shot of me as a kid attending a game with my dad. Baseball really is the game that transcends generations.





Friday, May 1, 2015

girl power

Recently, DC Comics announced they were launching a new line of books and products called "Super Hero Girls" aimed at girls age 6-12. It's really kind of exciting, as the comic industry has done a poor job of engaging women throughout their history. Finding a strong heroine who is not over-sexualized or who doesn't simply play a supporting role is not easy.


I can't say I gave it much thought before having a daughter, when as a boy, I had all the heroes I could ask for. When Nat came along though, I began looking for a heroine who could play the roll in her life that Superman and He-Man did for me in my youth. We have enjoyed She-Ra and Supergirl through the years, but the one that my daughter loves the most is Wonder Woman.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Slug Life

Mornings have always been slow for me. I fact, I can't think of a time where I wanted to get up and move right away in the morning. This has not caused too many problems in the last 12 years, as I've worked nights since college. Before that however, I missed more than a coupe classes in college, and chased the bus in high school more than I care to admit.

Today, this slow morning syndrome is only a problem when I am trying to get the kids up for school. Godzilla takes two to three wake-up calls before he will roll out of bed, and then it's instantly the groans of a man 59 years his elder. How can a six-year-old wake up with a sore back? Once he finally gets dressed, its a trudging shuffle out to breakfast where he supports his head on his hand as he lazily munches on his food.

I cant really get upset at his morning pace, not when it took hitting the snooze twice to get out of bed myself. Add to that the fact that he doesn't even have coffee to crutch himself up, and I have major sympathy for him.

So, we work our way through breakfast and out the door to school and turn to his brother

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bedtime Songs

Its true, we're creatures of habit. At least, I am a creature of habit. How else would you explain the fact that I've been singing the same lullabies to my kids for 10 years now? Not that I mind, I enjoy them, my kids enjoy them, and that's all that matters in the end, I suppose. And it's not just lullabies, it's songs in general.