Lego Table-a DIY Project

Hello Friends,

Our lives have been full of school activities, what with the end of the year and all. I feel like a little break though. A while back I mentioned that I wanted to share more of our project life, so here goes…and the fact that it is a Lego-centric post is gravy on the potatoes.

Projects were a part of our lives well before the girls arrived. I am still a DIY kind of guy, but my projects have shifted. As life would have it, they have gone from “my projects” (1955 Buick), to “our” projects (1920 Bungalow), to “their” projects. This last category hosts a long, ever-growing list of things that need building, modifying, or repair. Recently, we customized a table to create a Lego building/play space.

I mentioned this table in my Lego History post, but the backstory is that we bought it from the liquidation sale when they closed the Sears down the street. Formerly for product display, the table is an all-steel frame with pressed-wood inserts. It was a little beaten up, but a sanding and a fresh coat of paint cleaned it right up.

Wife and I then set about the baseplate layout. She had picked up the green plates at Target for the girls’ free play. The road plates are from my Lego building days in the eighties (big thanks to the Q nephews and nieces for taking care of them!). As I mentioned in the history post, we wanted some type of layout, without sacrificing free play space. So far, the table is a combination of sets from buildings mixed with the girls’ creations. Free building and set following in one!

You can see that the height works perfectly for these chairs we found at Costco. There is also the lower shelf for storage (you can just see our storage bricks). And the girls love it. I don’t think a day goes by where they aren’t building and playing at the table. And many days, I have to kick them off so we can make it to school.

In total, this project cost under $75. The table itself was $23, a weird price because of the liquidation sale. The green plates are $7.99 off the shelf at Target. The paint is a $15 quart of Rustoleum (plus a handful of cheap brushes). Granted, we had the road plates, and the Costco chairs, so there was a re-assignment of existing resources. If I had painted in the warmer weather, I could’ve saved time and money with spray cans. But again, the girls are at the table daily, and their friends gravitate right to it when they come over to play. I think this project has already paid for itself.

So there’s our Lego table project. I will continue to share more of my projects, so you’ll be seeing them. I just caught wind of an IKEA/Lego collboration, so there may be a better, official option soon. Anyway, let me know what you think, or share your Lego play space.

We’ll see you out there!

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My First Field Trip

Hello Friends,

The girls have taken field trips for a few years now. Obviously, there are school trips, like two or three each year. Last summer, Sweetie took field trips through her summer camp as well. Me, on the other hand, I’ve been avoiding them like the flu. But, not anymore!

These are all pictures taken while I chaperoned Cricket’s trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo with the two PreK-4 classes. An afternoon at LPZ is an easy sell for me. And the timing worked out, with no second child in tow, no half day pick up, and work that I could delay.

I was definitely nervous, at first, worrying that it would be me alone with half of Cricket’s class. I was envisioning parading around the zoo, chasing stragglers from one exhibit to the next. It wasn’t all that different from what I expected, except my group was five children (yes, Cricket was one of them), and I was joined by another Mom and a nanny (with a student’s younger sibling in tow). A third Mom even joined us during lunch. So we had/made a village.

Overall, the kids were great. Sure, they are four and five years old, but they were fine. The day was perfect, with the right balance of warmth, sun, cloud cover, and breeze. The bus ride? Well, definitely brought back elementary school memories. Taking all that into account, I guess I could help with another trip next year.

I don’t know about your kids’schools, but St. Viator has all sorts of ways for parents to get involved. The general feedback that I have heard (mainly from teacher Moms) is that field trips are one of the most important and helpful ways for parents to participate in school events. Personally, I liked seeing the kids enjoy the zoo and the animals. It’s no coincidence that all these pictures show the kids at the enclosure glass ir wall. They were so into the animals. And watching their antics was icing on the cake.

We are winding down the school year. For yhe most part, the girls are all smiles. I hope your end-of-year adventures are good as well.

Crazy Hair Day

Hello Friends,

In my last post I told you all about the Fun Run at the school (St. Viator Elementary). That us weeks past, but the girls continue to reap the benefits of their findraising efforts.

This is “crazy hair and socks day” for Sweetie’s class. The students were allowed to style their hair however they wanted, or wear a hat, and wear wild socks.

Some of the do’s included hair dye, others with silly ponytails, and many with lots of product. Sweetie opted for a jellyfish parked on her head. No, that’s not a spider, nor an octopus (silly you).

All credit to Wife for having the patience to do the braids, then creating this critter. Sweetie was very proud to walk in with her “crazy” hair. And the socks were a bonus. The kids enjoyed this fun day, even though they didn’t get anything. The fun factor raised their spirits in the classroom, so I hope this little story raises yours.

Well, I hope your week is starting off well. We’ll see you out there!

Funds Run

Hello Friends,

I want to tell you a little about the girls raising some money for their school, and a lot about the support of our friends and family.

The girls just completed the 2019 Boosterthon “Fun Run” at the school. This fundraising event combines school-wide activities, online adventures, donation solicitation, and physical activity to benefit the school. This year the funds will help St. Viator School blend classical classroom learning with technological tools while modifying the classroom layout. We are adding stations, smart boards and computer-based tools to our book and desk classroom situation. Pretty neat stuff.

Boosterthon is the company that organizes this fundraising event. They have a website where students set up a video (which both Sweetie and the Cricket enjoyed making), send out solicitation emails, and track their progress on a rudimentary dashboard. Staff members with catchy codenames (like “Adventure Abbey”) spend time in the school hyping the kids up and building enthusiasm. As the students reach fundraising benchmarks they earn a variety of prizes. These are mostly knickknacks, but they tend to revolve around physical activity and play. This flurry of activity swirls around the school for two weeks until the actual day of the run.

Boosterthon handles all the staging, lighting, and entertainment for the run as well. Parent volunteers count/tally laps while others come out to cheer on the runners. The goal for all students is thirty-five laps around the course, a good balance between challenging and fun.

It’s been eye-opening to learn how our tuition covers the operation and the maintenance of the school, but not necessarily innovation. The money raised through the Boosterthon fun run helps on that front. Combined, the girls raised $875 dollars, all donated by family and friends. So we say a big “Thank you!” to all of you who supported the girls and pledged to their run. We definitely appreciate you and your donations.

The Fun Run has been successful the past three years, so I imagine we’ll do it again next year. The girls were proud of their contribution to the school, and they had a great time running. Need a good fundraising event for your school? Maybe check out Boosterthon to see if they operate in your area. In the event that you are interested in supporting us next year, you can contact me through the comments or at dadsdiaperdetour@gmail.com, and I will add your email to the contact list. We’ll see you out there!

The Balance Unicorn

Hello Friends,

Allow me to share a glimpse into our morning routine. This is another event where I resort to a fixed schedule in order to get something done. Specifically, get the girls to brush their teeth to finish getting ready for school and get out the door on time. They get a turn brushing, then comes mine:

“Open your mouth”-brush inside. (spit)

“Close your teeth”-brush outside. (spit)

“Stick out your tongue”-brush tongue. (spit)

Rinse.

Dr. Johnny told us to brush for two minutes, twice a day. So, repeat this each morning after breakfast and each evening before bed. That’s fourteen times a week, for the past three years, and always with the same script.

Why then am I writing about the brushing of teeth like it’s some monumental accomplishment? This is an exercise that should be easy for us, take us four to five minutes, twice a day. Most times, though, it is a much longer ordeal. The girls will often fall off script, Cricket in particular. With her it feels like every other day I remind her of the brushing order. So I got to thinking, “Why is that?” I mean, all the books say that kids need routine, that they respond well to routine, they like routine. And the only answer I can come up with is, “Sometimes, particularly with children, that’s just how it goes.”

And there it is; that’s why I’m writing about our tooth brushing routine. Because it is my routine, not the girls’, so sometimes they don’t follow it (nor seem compelled to). Regardless of how long we have practiced these steps, we stray from the plan. Or rather, they stray. And sometimes that’s just how it goes.

Some days it is the tooth brushing routine; sometimes it is when we leave for school; other days it is the classroom routine at school; still others it is with toilet use. They aren’t acting on a choice, exercising their agency, pushing back, acting out or anything like that. They’re just doing, and it happens to be in a different direction than I’m doing. So lately I’ve been quietly reminding myself that sometimes, that’s just how it goes.

Admittedly, sometimes I tell that voice (still quietly) to go to hell. Those are the days when patience is not high on my list. Days when we’ve squandered our morning and have to sprint out the door, or when I think a four-year-old should use the toilet every time. These are days when my expectations might exceed our reality.

This brings up more questions, namely, “Where are you going with this, man?” And that answer is “balance.” I think the key here is to find a balance with your little ones. As much as I would love to control every move, every minute, that’s not a reality. But I also think it is unrealistic to resign yourself to chaos and let your kids follow every whim. So, balance. You know, like Mary Poppins making a game out of cleaning up the nursery. Yeah, balance. Man, this feels like I’m sitting back in Parenting 101.

I know this post wanders around a bit, friends, so thanks for sticking through to the end. I was recently reminded that children need room to be children, or else they seek out another outlet. I guess that means sometimes wiggling at the dinner table, making a mess of a room, being loud in general, etc.. Clearly, I’m still chomping on that comment, but wandering around this post has helped me to process.

I can’t help feeling like I am searching for a unicorn, though. I mean, there are entire sections of the bookstore dedicated to finding balance in your life. And then add your kids’ lives? Whew! Anyway, thanks again for reading my ramblings, I wish you all the best in finding your own balance.

I hope you are having a great day, we’ll see you out there!

History of Lego in Our Life

Hello Friends,

We all have our favorite toys from childhood, and mine are those colorful interlocking blocks – Lego (or more affectionately, “Legos”). They stuck around the longest for me, well after He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers & Go-Bots and M.U.S.C.L.E. fell off my radar. Man, the 80’s toy game was strong! But I digress…Lego. Yes, I was a big fan as a child and have rekindled my love for these blocks through my girls. Am I pushing their interest in them? Just a bit.

Taking us back to the early 80’s, my first “set” was Lego number 722, a general building set comprised of a box of bricks and an instructional manual with five different builds. In case you’re wondering how I can be so specific with this history, I still have the book:

This was my main interest until the Fourth Grade, when Cap’n Jack showed me the joy of constructing Lego spaceships. Always more of a free builder than I was (and a better free builder at that), Cap’n Jack stoked my Lego interest from an ember to a full on “Lego Maniac” Bonfire. In the mid-80’s “Zack” was a “Lego Maniac” (it was a commercial)- the kid my ten-year-old-self wanted to be, with the Lego collection I wanted to own.

But enough about me, the girls’ introduction to Lego starts with Duplo and, once again, Cap’n Jack. He gifted Sweetie her first Duplo set for her First Birthday. Want to guess what his son will be getting for his First Birthday? Needless to say, it took her a while to realize the blocks were not food, but fun. And things grew from there.

The Cricket wanted to play with whatever cool toy Sweetie was playing with. While she inherited the Duplo blocks, whose numbers had grown significantly, she would look to her sister and the smaller bricks.

Sweetie moved back and forth between, but her transition was sealed on her Fifth Birthday, when Moana’s Canoe arrived.

The girls’ collection really started growing after that birthday, with Lego sets becoming a go-to gift for many occasions. We also started adding the “Family Collection” to our house. That was five moving boxes and three copy-paper boxes full of built sets, bricks, plates, mini-figures (of course), and a plastic three-drawer organizer for the build manuals.

The Family Collection started when i was in Junior High and packed up my Lego city. My nephews and nieces took the collection from there and added the sets they collected over the past fifteen years. The girls have seen the Family Collection, but only get access to a bit at a time.

Thankfully, they are content with the bricks they have on hand.

Our latest addition, a dedicated table, adds some accessible play-ability as well as some organization to our Lego play (I’ll share some pics of that project later). Wife and I kept the layout simple to encourage free building, but there is a lower shelf to encourage Lego brick storage. As much as my heart loves these plastic blocks, the bottoms of my feet do not!

Did you grow up playing with Lego bricks (again, “playing Legos”)? Have you passed this interest on to your child(ren)? Or, like me, gently forced it upon them through continued encouragement? It’s great to see the following Lego has, and to see the community that enjoys these toys. I know they’ll be in our lives for many years to come, and we’ll be sure to share that with you.

Be safe, friends, we’ll see you out there.

Cookies for All!

Hello Friends,

The main push of Sweetie’s Girl Scout Cookie sales has wrapped, and we are now tasked with sorting orders and delivering the goods. Here’s a snapshot of our house:

I want to thank all of you who bought cookies this year in support of Sweetie, the Daisy Scouts and Girl Scouts in general. This first wave of sales had Sweetie structuring a website (with Wife’s assistance), making cold-calls (okay, I dialed), and even working the ground game. If you connected with her via these efforts, you helped her reach 75% of her sales goal. Thank you.

ATTCookieSales2019

Now don’t fret if you are reading this and wishing you could get some Girl Scout Cookies. I can still hook you up, but there’s a catch. The cookies would have to be ordered through Sweetie’s online sales page and would be delivered to your home. All good there. The downside is that under this option, you would have to pay delivery. Boo. If ya’ gotta have ’em though, hit me up at dadsdiaperdetour@gmail.com and I will send you the link.

Take care, friends. We’ll see you out there. Now to exercise some self-control!