1 Day 1 World Project: 5:00 – 6:00 PM

Lisa from Northwest Frame of Mind started a new series on her blog where participants write a post on what they were doing during the specified hour on the Saturday of each week. Kind of like the television program ’24’. It’s an interesting idea, you can check out the other submission form all over the world to see what other people have been doing at that time. Here’s my submission.

We’re planning Mr. C’s 5th birthday party, so at that time we weren’t doing anything that exciting, so no beautiful shot of a hike in the Southern New Hampshire mountains this week!

We had the bright idea of giving the kids at the birthday party a small Lego kit as a party favor, and then having them build it as a fun activity they could do at the party. So we took a trip to a local Lego store to see if they had any small inexpensive sets. (For anyone who doesn’t know the “Lego Store” is a toy store that only sells Legos. My older brother was very much into Disney with his son, I suppose with me it’s Legos!)

After talking to am employee there, I was soon disappointed to find out that buying eight small Lego sets would cost much more than I had expected. Eight of the smallest boxes of Legos would end up costing more than $60.

However, Ms. J had another idea. The store has a wall of bins filled with Lego bricks and other assorted parts. You can fill up a large cup with as many pieces as you can cram in for $17. Maybe we could come up with a small car or plane or something that the kids could make from the parts that we could cram into one of those cups ?

So, we spent most of Saturday afternoon at the Lego store, trying to come up with our own Lego design that did not have too many pieces, that could be easily made by a group of five year old kids, and whose pieces could be crammed into a Lego cup.

After many, many, many, prototypes of a variety of vehicles, which involved us spreading Lego pieces on the store floor and then trying to come up with something, Ms. J won the competition with a very cool looking space ship. So then we had to gather up all of the component parts from the bins on the wall and cram them in. We did have to do some simplifying of the design a few times, and after at least an hour, we managed to cram in all of the pieces! I’m sure the store employees that we were crazy, but they most likely see a lot of that sort of thing. A store employee told me that one customer bought a set that cost more than $100 just to get a few of the very specialized pieces to make something of his own design. Whew, an exciting Saturday evening for us from about 4:00 to 6:00pm!

Here it is. It was so crammed with pieces that the top wouldn’t fit back on for the photo. Yeah, eight little Legos sets for the party for just $17!

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On Sunday, we then had to try to remember what that space ship looked like and divide up the pieces into eight piles and put them into small bags to get ready for the party.

Of course we had no recollection at all of what it looked like, and had not taken a photo.

So, Ms. J, Mr. C, and I then spent about two hours on Sunday afternoon trying to come up with something with the pieces we had in the big Lego cup.

And Ms. J wins the design competition again!

Ok Kids, lets make a Lego space ship! You can make it in any color you want as long as it’s black!

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Ok, getting a little stressed about this birthday party. Maybe a soothing photo of a previous hike in New Hampshire will be calming.

 

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Mr. Scientist

It’s funny how much our careers affect how Ms. J and I think, and it makes me wonder how this influences Mr. C. She’s a Scientist, and before I was a Stay At Home Dad, I worked in Advertising. So she’s always much more rational and methodical than I am, while she always says that I’m much more creative than she is.

A few months ago we went to a fundraiser ‘yard sale’ for a local non-profit. Ms J picked up a zip lock bag filled with toy parts for $1. It looked like an old Erector set to me, with its collection of nuts, bolts, metal plates and girders. I thought we would store it away somewhere for Mr. C to play with when he was older. At three years old, he was a bit too young to work with all of those tiny nuts and bolts. At least I thought so.

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I had thought I would store the bag somewhere and take it out when he was a few years older, maybe when he was six or seven.

Well the hiding spot I picked stayed secret for about four months.

“Look what I found in the secret closet, Dada!’ He said as I walked into his room as he expertly screwed together metal plates and girders.

So, now that the bag was opened I decided to try to figure out what it was. It turned out to be a set of Meccano pieces, not Erector.

I had only seen Meccano once before, on an episode of a BBC TV show, ‘James May’s Toy Stories’. It is a building toy, an English brand, though I think they are made in France now. (James May tried to make a bridge using Meccano parts large enough and strong enough for a person to walk over. A very funny series.)

As far as I can tell they are not sold in the US, so we were not familiar with the toy at all. The bag had no instructions, and no box was included, it was just a bag filled with the metal parts. We had no idea what the parts were supposed to be used to construct. It was a charity sale, so for $1 we thought, why not, we’ll figure it out.

So me being Mr Ad Man, my questions were things like:

Why don’t they sell Meccano in the US ?
Too much competition from Erector ?
Can I buy a set online ?
What did the box look like ?
Are they still making the toy out of metal ?
Is it cost effective to make it out of metal, or would plastic be better ?
Would they loose loyal customers if they switched to plastic ?

When she walked into the room and saw us making a jumble of connected pieces, with me being completely mystified as to what the parts were supposed to be used to make, Ms J the Scientist, asked;

What can we make with it ?
It has a small battery powered motor, maybe some kind of car or truck ?
No, there’s no wheels so its not a car.
What are the most unusual pieces here, those curved pieces look funny, what are those pieces for?
There’s 16 curved pieces, maybe they make a big circle?
One big circle doesn’t really work, maybe two ?
Two circles. What has two big metal circles of multicolored metal pieces, and needs a motor ?

So after about five minutes she figures it out. It’s a Ferris wheel. A quick search of the internet for ‘Meccano Ferris Wheel’ showed that she was right. I was surprised to find that there is a site devoted to Meccano history, ‘Meccanopedia’. And she figured this out with the set missing a few pieces too.

As Mr. C carefully began to construct a Ferris wheel with no instructions I decided that this time, he’s closer to being a Scientist.

Mystery Train

How can an entire train engine go missing ?

For Mr. C’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, we bought him a Brio remote control train engine.  He already has a big box of wooden tracks and a variety of other engines, ramps, bridges, and tunnels.  So we thought this would be a good addition.  He can use a hand held remote to make the engine move forward and backward, and turn on its lights and have it make a whistle sound.

He played with it for about two days before the engine disappeared.   We still had the remote, but could not find the engine.  We looked everywhere.  Under beds, under chairs, in the basement, under radiators, in the closets.  This is a house that is filled with stuff.  It’s not as though it’s too messy, it’s just packed as full as it can be.  Ms. J and I got together when we were well into adulthood, so when we combined all of our stuff we ended up with two of everything.  Not just two of every kitchen item, like having two blenders and two coffee pots,  but also two of each piece of furniture.  We’ve been slowly paring down all this excess stuff, but it’s still a pretty packed house here.  So to look for anything that is lost can turn into a major project involving emptying out closets that are filled with boxes and looking under beds around more boxes.   We looked and looked, but  it was gone.    We still had the remote, but not the engine.

Then the engine appeared.  It was just sitting on the carpet in the living room one morning as if it had just been used. How did it get there ?   Did the cat take a joy ride in the middle of the night ?

Problem was that  now the remote had disappeared.  We looked everywhere again.  Under beds, under chairs, in the basement, under the radiators, in closets.  Now we had the engine, but no remote control.

I then lost track of the engine and it too went missing again.

A few days later the remote appeared under a bookcase.  Where did that come from ?

Since his birthday two weeks ago, he’s been able to play with the train for about 45 minutes.   Now it’s been about a week since we saw the engine last.  I’m trying to keep the remote in a safe place, and I’m watching the cat.

I’m sure it will turn up again,  most likely 10 years from now when Mr. C is a teenager

 

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