Archive for Mini-Morts

August 1, 2009

What Happens When Big Boys Jump on the Bed

If only our insurance company would allow us to have a trampoline. Then the boy would have a place to jump, a place actually designed for jumping. Since he was a toddler, he has loved to jump on his bed. First we put our full size guest bed in his room. He jumped, and jumped, and jumped on that thing. But the bed was too big for his room, and when he was four, we bought him a twin size platform bed with drawers underneath. Naturally, the very first thing he did was climb up there and jump on it, only to find that we had replaced his big bouncy bed with a small stiff bed.

He was not pleased. He did not ask for this new bed, and he did not want this new bed.

But that didn’t stop him from jumping. Jump, jump, jump. For the past five years, that bed has taken a beating. He’s big for his age and a wee bit enthusiastic, so it was inevitable that at some point he was going to crash through the platform. And a couple of months ago, he did.

big hole in the bed

Mr. Enigma, my husband, had patched the hole with some 1/4-inch plywood, but he was afraid it wouldn’t hold forever. So last weekend, he swapped in the platform piece from our daughter’s old bed. (She doesn’t need it anymore because she built her own bed last year.) But before he did, I made him illustrate just how big the hole was. Look how horrified he was to assist.

big enough for a man

Of course, uncovering the bed meant unearthing some major dust bunnies. I swear, they’re alive.

big dust bunnies

Mr. Enigma has all the right tools for just about any job. He has a staple-puller-outer-thingie to pull crazy-long staples out, and a staple gun to shoot crazy-long staples in, among other handy devices.

the bed is as good as new

The bed’s fixed, good as new, but it’s still rotten for jumping. So now the Duke jumps on my bed. There’s no platform to break, unless you consider the second-story floor a platform.


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July 17, 2009

Quote of the Day

Something in this house has the stench of cleanliness!

–The Duke of Hazard, 8.5 years

This is what happens when you clean so rarely that your kids find the smell of lemony fresh household cleaners to be offensive.

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May 28, 2009

Some Disassembly Required

What do you get when you cross a kid with a broken lawnmower? A take-apart project, of course. (That was too easy.) We’ve had the lawnmower since last fall when a neighbor put it out on trash day. My son, who likes to pick stuff out of other people’s trash, saw it through our bay window, and I knew what had to be done. We knocked on the neighbor’s door and asked if it was really trash. Yes, it is. Chip down the street tried to fix it but couldn’t, so it’s just best to get rid of it, she said.

Can we have it so the kids can take it apart? “Sure, have at it!”

Mr. Enigma spent some time late last fall emptying the gas and oil tanks and removing the engine from the chassis. He covered it up and left it near our shed, where snow promptly buried it for a couple of months. Over the long winter, the kids forgot about it. Then I mentioned it a couple of nights ago. My daughter wasn’t terribly interested, but there was no holding The Duke back.

The next morning, we peeled back the tarp and unveiled the hardware. As I lifted the engine to move it to the grass, The Duke said, “Hey, that’s a spark plug!” It was — I didn’t know he knew what a spark plug was! When, exactly, did he acquire that knowledge?

behind the curtain

[What’s behind curtain number one?]

Before any project, it’s important to gather the right tools. The Duke has his own toolbox, complete with several screwdrivers of differing sizes and heads, an adjustable wrench, a hat, and measuring tape, which he apparently thought he’d need but didn’t. I also brought out my toolbox in case I had some tools he was missing. (I’m not sure which we have more of in this house, tools or books.)

you gotta choose the right tools

[Carefully choosing the right tools.]

The Duke patiently examined the engine from all angles, planning his attack. We agreed that he should remove the plastic engine cover first since it was covering so much. It took us a while to get the sockets on the handle, but once I figured out we needed a pesky little adapter, the Duke was all set.

first piece

[The first piece came off easily.]

The socket set was our friend today. The Duke removed a lot of bolts surprisingly easily. Others required a little more oomph and some better leverage. My inner (and outer) feminist was not going to be happy if neither of us could budge any bolts and I had to ask big, strong, manly Mr. Enigma to loosen them for us.

standing gives you leverage

[Gaining some leverage.]

Occasionally, a less, um, refined tool was needed. Did you know that when a part is really stuck, you can sometimes smash it off?

sometimes you need a hammer

[Descendant of Thor swings his mighty hammer.]

Overall, I was impressed with The Duke’s careful attention to detail, his patience, and his use of different tools to do different jobs. He even grabbed a very small, thin flathead screwdriver and used it as a lever to bend some metal flashing that was blocking two bolts.

After about an hour, which included a couple of short breaks on the swings and zip line, The Duke announced, “That’s enough for today.”

hour of work

[A day’s work.]

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November 23, 2008

We’ve Got Stuff … Big Stuff

Like most kids, my kids love to make things. They especially like to make something new out of something old. Sometimes their projects involve power tools and lots of dust-making in the shop with Mr. Enigma, and other times they just require simple materials.

The constant state of making means that we throw almost nothing away. That old egg beater would make a perfect laser blaster on a space ship, dontcha know! Of course, that means you must keep a lot of parts lying about just waiting to be recycled into something cool.

box of parts

It also means we have to keep our eyes peeled for treasures wherever we go. In fact, my son, The Duke, has become quite the diamond-in-the-rough finder. “Mommy, look what I got!” is a common phrase here on Sundays, the day before trash pickup on our street. Just a few weeks ago he came home with a nice, old, rusty, electric double burner.

“What do you want that for?” I asked.

“I’m gonna take it apart.”

You can’t argue with that, but you can argue with keeping someone else’s old, rusty, food-encrusted burner in your house. So we put it on our “3-season porch,” and the Duke agreed that after he took it apart, we’d throw it all away. So couple of nights ago, he took it apart, and we’ve tossed the sharp and nasty bits. But even the grownups realized we couldn’t throw it all away. Look at these burners. Can’t you see them on a robot? Danger, Will Robinson!

old burners

I love the kids’ projects not only because every one of them is unique, but also because the kids bring so much excitement, creativity, and joy to the table (or backyard, or shop) every time. The result is a creation straight out of their imaginations.

Take this contraption, for example. It’s a DNA scrambler, but I’m sure you knew that. And I’m sure you knew it wouldn’t work without the hat.

what is it?

Basically, you use the scrambler to turn yourself into another creature. You select the creature (some animals, some magical, some mythical, some newly imagined) from the table of creatures. Next, you use the blue dial to set the size of the creature, and then a bunch of other stuff happens with lights and menus and stuff like that (use your imagination, please!), and then you turn into that creature.

A few weeks ago, The Duke made the scrambler over the course of a couple of evenings. Mr. Enigma was working in the shop, and the Duke went in to check it out. The next thing you know, he had decided to make his own project. (A common occurrence when Mr. Enigma is noodling around in the shop.) The first night, the Duke planned out what he would make and started drawing the different creatures on the hardboard. He finished about half the grid that first night. Then he put it down and came back to it another night, when he asked me for some ideas for other creatures he could add to the grid. Once he had finished the grid, he and Mr. Enigma put the finishing touches on the hardboard, and then they made the hat.

And there you have a new, handmade, unique toy. Lots of imagination went into it, and lots of imagination is required to play with it.
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October 10, 2008

Quote of the Day

Me: “How’s it going?”

8-year-old son: “Great! I have a bigger brain now!”*

*Said as he was playing Spore.

UPDATE: Second quote of the day: “Oh no, not another lover!”

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June 13, 2008

Spring Update: Ides of March Eve/Einstein’s Birthday/Pi Day

I‘ve been so bloggedy-blog-blog busy that I haven’t had time to, um, blog in the past several weeks. How sad that it’s almost summer and I haven’t finished writing about spring. I’ll never get all the details down now, but trust me when I say we had a lot of fun this spring, what with the 5,000 field trips I registered us for and the general whoopin’ it up we do on a daily basis.

Okay, we don’t whoop all that much, but when we do, we really whoop like nobody’s business. In a nerdy sort of way.

Take, for instance, March 14, otherwise known as the day before the Ides of March or Pi Day (3.14 - get it?). Plus, it’s someone’s birthday. Of all people, Albert Einstein had the good sense to be born on Pi Day. How fortuitous for Albert and for me! I have kids, so I now have an excuse to celebrate Einstein’s birthday, which is something that never occurred to me to do when I was young. Can’t imagine why. Now, of course, I’m all for adding more birthday celebrations to our calendar, especially if they s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the time until my next birthday.

The Einstein birthday party was actually my daughter’s idea. She was mad that I didn’t tell her it was Einstein’s birthday until 9 o’clock that evening. “Now I missed it!” she complained. But I assured her that she could have an impromptu party the next day, and none of the kids on the block were likely to know or care that we were a day late. After all, she had no idea about Einstein’s birthday until I told her, right? So in the morning she created the invitations and helped me with the party activities. When one of her friends arrived for the party, we explained what the party was and what we’d be doing, to which he replied, “I thought this was going to be a normal party.”

Normal, schmormal. Some party highlights:

The Einstein Quiz
In which we asked truly trivial questions about Albert Einstein’s life that none of the kids could answer correctly. Can you believe none of them even knew he was German? Sheesh, take an educated guess, people! (NB: The oldest kid at the party was 10.)

If I Only Had a Brain
In which art imitated life. Look at the photo of Albert. Something’s missing — his brain! No wonder his hair is always a mess.

Someone stole Albert's brain!

I bet he has a splitting headache.
(Note the awesomeness of my Photoshop skillz.)

Luckily, the kids stepped in and played Pin the Brain on Einstein, with one child actually sticking a brain in the hole in the astrophysicist’s head. Nice job!

Pin the brain on Einstein
Pin another brain on Einstein

I wish it were this easy for me to get another brain or two.

Let Them Eat Pi
In which a 9-year-old used a pie (and whipped cream) to explain pi. Pie humbly and doubly serves humanity by being both a math manipulative and a dessert, while pi serves as the shortest mathematical term with the longest value (more than a trillion digits and counting!).

Pi Pie

Mathematically good!

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March 4, 2008

WalkingFinding the Labyrinth

Last weekend, my son’s UU religious education (RE) class learned about labyrinths, which many UUs and people of other belief systems use both metaphorically and as a spiritual practice. The assistant RE directed noted that another local church has two labyrinths in the woods on their retreat property, Rolling Ridge.

So we took a ride over there yesterday afternoon to walk the labyrinths and, perhaps, meditate while on our path. (Okay, with my kids, meditation — in the silent, pensive, inward-looking sense of the word — was but a pipe dream.)

It occurred to me only after I parked the car that it’s winter in New England. We still have snow on the ground. A labyrinth is, in fact, a path. On the ground. And therefore under the snow. Suddenly I was reminded of last winter when we (and when I say “we,” I mean “I”) decided it would be fun to finally try letterboxing with the kids. In the snow and 20-degree weather. It was not fun, nor, as you might expect, did we find the boxes. We did learn something that day, however: walking around in the woods, looking for something someone else has left there, on an Arctic-cold, overcast day does little to bring about family peace or unity.

Walking the labyrinth

See the curved path outlined by the rocks?

Given that I’ve made the same mistake two years in a row, I must be in some sort of deep, soul-level denial about winter. Either that, or I’m just incapable of learning from past experiences. The jury is still out.

Anyway, luckily, we don’t have all that much snow left, and the labyrinths were somewhat visible because they’re marked with logs and large stones. If you looked closely, you could see the curved patterns in the snow, but you couldn’t see for certain the specific path laid out. So we did the best we could to follow the intended labyrinth paths, but I’m sure we’ll have better luck once the snow melts.

Sometime in June.

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