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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May the 4th Fun

Hello Friends,

Yes, I know we are already days past, but May the 4th be with you! We had such a fun, full weekend that I couldn’t get this out to you all on Saturday. Our May 4th plans weren’t extensive, but they were fun, so I thought I’d share.Our main Star Wars celebration was heading to the local Barnes & Nobles for a May 4th Star Wars Lego build event. Bins of various pieces greeted the children, who had free reign to build.There was product on display, of course, as if the kids needed motivation to join the fun. They also had an activity booklet for the kids to color and complete. Sweetie and I ventured in while Cricket napped in the car.So here’s Sweetie’s finished escape pod. All MOCs were turned in to the staff for photographing and posting on their Instagram feed. It was kind of a bummer that the kids couldn’t keep their builds, but a giant poster of Star Wars alphabet helped ease that pain.The girls are Star Wars fans and Lego fans. They are not quiet to the convention/public cosplay level just yet, so the Barnes & Nobles event was just right. It was great to be out and about, and attending the event helped “launch” an adventurous afternoon.I hope you guys had a good weekend, and today started your week off well. 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.

Unicorn Fail

Hello Friends,

while the past few Mondays have been reserved for a “Sweet” joke, this week started with the joke on me. Sweetie had a social crisis and I was completely clueless.

One theme ran through the entire kindergarten year: unicorns. Many of the little girls were having unicorn-themed parties, wearing Halloween costumes, hosting spa-days (really!), drawing pictures, etc.. Unicorns invaded!

We were not safe. Sweetie showed an interest so we bought unicorn-themed books, threw her a unicorn-themed birthday party, and as a cute gesture I gave her the unicorn knight Lego collectible mini-figure. Apparently the min-fig was the straw that broke the unicorn’s…no. Apparently the min-fig was the final “thing” as Sweetie responded to it not with joy but with tears. And me? I was all, “huh?”

UniKnight

What’s not to love?

After calming down, and taking the min-fig completely apart, Sweetie admitted to me that she didn’t really like unicorns. Again – huh? “But your birthday party,” I probed, “you asked for the unicorn theme.”

Sweetie’s response – “Some of the other girls really like unicorns, so I said I liked them too.”

Wow.

It is still early in our summer break and we are already into the life lessons. What followed was a brief and gentle conversation about how Sweetie needed to be honest with herself about what she liked and did not like, and then how to represent herself genuinely. I did my best to explain peer pressure, pack/group mentality and social norms to my 6 year old without making her feel ashamed, silly or like she was in trouble. First unicorns, then what? I had to resist spiraling down that path.

We revisited the topic when Wife came home. Again, gentle, brief (as in “no lecturing”) and hopefully empowering. I think Sweetie was worried she had disappointed me as she promised to make me a custom Lego set which she hoped I would like. I assured her that if it came from her I was sure to like it.

I do like it. Besides that it came from my daughter, I also felt it was fitting to our situation. What to call the scene? I couldn’t decide. To be more specific, I kept getting distracted, falling into thoughts about social pressures already creeping into my First Grader’s existence. And that won’t stop. I know it’s more about teaching her how to navigate the pressures, not trying to prevent them or have her ignore them. There is, and will continue to be, so much to unpack here. This will be a lesson we hone together over time. And that’s real life, actual, not imaginary like the invading unicorns.

So that’s my take away, and the working title for Sweetie’s MOC: Finding Our Way.

100 Days

Hello Friends,

The girls just celebrated the 100th day of school. The teachers use this milestone to teach about the number “100”. They excercise creativity and make up fun counting and grouping activities. Sweetie’s teacher requested that the kids bring in 100 pieces of a particular item for their celebration. Here’s her submission:

We discussed the project for two weeks without settling on a particular item. Then, while cleaning and sorting some bricks, I came up with a Lego-based project (okay, didn’t mean to be literal there). I ran the idea past Sweetie and we agreed on three sets of 25 bricks and one set of 25 random pieces (understood and translated by Sweetie as “rainbow”).

After double-checking my brick count, Sweetie got to building. She went with a school/classroom build in alignment with the theme. And I just let her build.

This is all her, with one exception. She was having a time getting the yellow gate to act like a door, so I made the suggestion to put it on the propeller. I pulled that bit o’ genius from my “Lego Maniac” days. See if you can spot some pieces from those days. Yep, there’s some classic space in there, along with windows from the town hospital set, and obviously two of the minifigures are retro.

I’ll write more about my history with Lego bricks at another time. Suffice to say it was many happy years of building. My long-time friend Captain Jack and I were often at odds as I would keep the kits together and organized, while he would combine them to create complex, original structures. Isn’t that the Lego dilemma? Good times, though.

I enjoyed watching Sweetie build her project with Lego. So thank you TLG for inspiring yet another generation to build with your blocks. I have to admit I was taken aback by the project as a whole, though. Are we really that far into the school year? It feels like time is flying since we moved back into the house. And I really can’t use that as an excuse anymore. Well, we’ll just have to look forward to the next 100 days!

Twelve Day Experiment-Day 7

Hello Friends, While finishing some gift items today I built a couple of ornaments and thought I would share. Talking yesterday about our Star Wars decorations also helped set up this segue.

So this is Lego polybag 30497 , the First Order Heavy Assault Walker. Totally says, “Merry Christmas”, right? No – no it does not. But I thought I could change that and maybe give the girls a craft to occupy their time/hands/minds/insatiable need to do something. So add some holiday stickers, some ribbon for hanging and:

Whoa, I know – fiercely festive. Tidal wave of good Yule tidings. Merry Craft-mas (as in, Spanish, for “more”).

Alright, enough silliness. Much like that last sentence, this altered-toy ornament is alright, bit not epic. So far the reception has been good though; people think they are neat. Downside is that the kits are just outside Sweetie’s abilities, and Cricket was lost at the dump of the polybag. And forget the sticker placement and ribbon tying. So I have been building these and decorating them, not the girls. Not as sweet as I intended, but the girls love them! Lesson learned (again); craft in the age-appropriate range (it’s usually on the packaging). So if you like this ornament idea for your favorite Star Wars fan, have at it. If you think it’s silly, well, you’re probably onto something.

I want to take a minute to acknowledge Greg and Clarkman of the brickitect youtube channel. It was Greg’s review of this polybag that got me thinking about the ornament idea. If you’re a fellow former “Lego Maniac” looking to share your love of bricks with your kids, you might dig their channel.

Happy Holidays to all of you out there, and Happy Holidays to Greg and Clarkman!