Is This Important?

Do these toy pieces left on the floor go up the vacuum cleaner tube or not?

I remember this one, it’s a part of a wooden catapult kit. We looked and looked for this for hours, finally giving up and replacing the missing part with a metal washer instead.  Up the vacuum cleaner tube it goes!

I used to think that stepping on a Lego was the worst thing to step on, but a marble is worse.   We spent some money on those marbles though, so, much as I’d like to reduce the number of marbles in the house, I am cheap,  and I don’t like the idea that they would be lost to the vacuum, so you’re safe Mr. Heel Killer.

We love Legos here, so all Legos get a pass.  You’re safe from the vacuum little Lego piece.  I think this one is from a Lego construction truck set.

This guy is missing an arm and his legs.  Tough call on this one.  Mr. C does like this one, hmmm… lets see if he can find the missing parts.  You’re safe for now, little guy.

I’m pretty sure this is a piece from a game.   If we don’t have this piece, it will be hard to play the game, so this one is safe.

The smallest possible Lego piece ?   Also safe, though Mr. C has to get these, I’ve done enough bending down for the day.

I have no idea what this is, and it’s not a Lego.  Mr C. doesn’t know what it is either.  Sorry, little part, it’s the end of the line for you.  We’ll probably need you six months from now when we’re playing with whatever set you came from but that’s a chance we’ll have to take. We must reduce the clutter!  Up the tube with you!

This might be a Lego, then again maybe it’s not a Lego.  Hmmm, the judge says it has to be clearly marked to be a Lego.  Sorry, you have to go, whatever you are.

Good job, Mr. C, you found his arm!   Now how about the rest of him?  OK, orange vest guy, you have 48 hours for us to find your pants.  Then it’s out the door with you, sorry.


C’s school planned to have a “grammar costume day” on Halloween. So instead of coming to school in the costumes that they would be wearing later that night, the kids would come in as some form of speech.  For C’s class it was ‘adjective’.  That’s a nice idea, but now we have to come up with TWO costumes?

So I asked C which adjective he might want to go as, and he said that he’d rather not do it at all.  It wasn’t required was it? he’d ask.  No, it’s not required.  OK, let’s not do it, I’ll just be a vampire for Halloween night.

OK, great.  Only one costume to work on. The weekend before Halloween I didn’t think much about his costume, planning on getting it together Monday afternoon, once he came home from school.  We’ve always made his costumes ourselves, always at the last minute, so this was not unusual.  One year he wanted to be a tiger, so I took one of his old orange t-shirts covered it in  stripes of masking tape and spray painted the unmasked areas in black. Once the masking tape is pulled off, he had a orange and black striped shirt – there you go you’re a tiger.  One year he wanted to be a pirate – so I found a strip of red cloth, painted a skull on it,  cut out a piece of cardboard to look like a sword and painted it gray , wrapped the cloth around his head he’s a pirate with a sword.  One of the earliest was his request to be a robot.  That was easy, a cardboard box wrapped in aluminum foil, with a hole cut in it for a flashlight to poke out from the front, and added a few switches and dials from the pile of broken things in the basement to look like robot dials and buttons.  Cut a hole in the top for his head, holes on the sides for arms, and he’s a robot. So a vampire would be easy, take a black wool blanket wrap it around the shoulders and make some fangs.

Then Monday morning came and he asked me if he could go to school as “Stormy”.  This was at 8:30 in the morning.  We have to be at school by 8:45.  So we had ten minutes.  Uhhhh…. Ok, let’s see what we can do here…hhmmmm…. I said as the seconds ticked by.

We took that black wool blanket, wrapped it around his shoulders, pinned it on his shirt with several safety pins.  There you go, you’re a big black rain cloud!   This is what I said, trying to sound enthusiastic, while in my head I was thinking that this has got to be the worst costume I’ve ever come up with, but it’s all I can think of with ten minutes to go.

Then I drove him to school and started to see all of the elaborate costumes that the other kids had on.  There were a variety of adverbs, adjectives, nouns, conjunctions and prepositions.  One kid was dressed like a penguin, he was supposed to be “chilly”, one kid looked like a giant brain, he was supposed to be “erudite”.   So I was worried that he would feel a little left out since his costume could barely qualify as a costume.  All day I was worried that he would come out of school and be upset with the costume, but then again we only had ten minutes anyway.

Later that day, I go to pick him up from school.  All the kids come running out, very excited to plan their Trick or Treating night so they’re running around showing off their costumes to each other.  C comes out and says ‘Look at me I’m a storm!’ and runs across the field with his blanket flapping behind attached to his shoulders.  What a relief.

Later, while getting ready for a Halloween party, he says;  I want to be a dragon trainer!  Not a vampire?   No, a dragon trainer.   Once again, this is with about ten minutes to go before the party.

We took the black wool blanket, attached it to his shirt again, found a toy dragon and attached it to the blanket with some twine on his shoulder.  There you go, now you’re a dragon trainer.


Too Many Legos?

Mr. C loves Lego, and after six years of receiving Lego sets, Mr. C has a lot of them now.  

What we do is put together the set as soon as we get it.  Here’s a Lego fire truck. It has a ladder that can extend and rotate 360 degrees, and a hose on a reel.    

However, after a few months of hard playing, the set is taken apart and its pieces are scattered into the vast Lego bin of unattached pieces.


So we get out the huge pile of instructions and search for the pieces, and put it together again.  Usually, we can’t find all the correct pieces, so we have to make some substitutions. 

After a few hours of searching, it’s back together again.  Yeah!  The fire engine is back!  That set cost quite a bit, it’s good to get it back together.  
But then, a few months later, it’s all taken apart again and back into the vast bin of unattached pieces.  


After six years of searching for missing Lego pieces,  I’ve given up on trying to keep the sets together and accepted the idea that Mr. C is going to make his own creations. 

Here’s a “Traffic Control” vehicle he made.  It uses parts from the fire engine, as well as parts from about a dozen other sets, including the legs of a dragon. 


 It also has a magnetic rope that grabs the cars that cause traffic jams. 

This might be better than a fire engine anyway.  And ‘No’ you can never have too many Legos. 


Everything is Awesome


We love Legos here, and here’s one reason why. 

 Mr. C received a Lego set that happened to be missing two pieces.  He spent a lot of time putting the set together and once he realized that two pieces were missing he was very disapointed.  He had opened the box and made it on the kitchen table so all of the pieces had to be nearby. He looked everywhere; under the table, under the refrigerator, under the stove, nope, nowhere.  One of the pieces was a tire axle, and since the set was a police truck that truck wasn’t going anywhere until we replaced thoses pieces. 

So i thought I’d take a chance and email the Lego people.  Every part has an inventory number on Lego sets, so armed with the appropriate numbers I searched the Lego website, was soon able to find the customer service email address, sent them the message about the missing pieces and assumed I would never hear back. 

To my surprise, in two days Lego sent me an email in reply.  Their email said they would be happy to replace the pieces but that it might take six to eight weeks.  Seemed fine to me, I was happy they replied at all! 

About a week later a package arrived with the missing pieces along  with a letter apologizing for the wait!

As the title of the theme song of last year’s Lego Movie, says; “Everything is Awesome!” 


Hess Trucks



One of the things that Mr. C has started to look forward to is the annual appearance of the new Hess truck during the Christmas season.

Since 1964 Hess gas stations have been selling toy trucks during the holiday season, each year they offer a different truck. They’re very sturdy and will often be battery powered with lights and moving wheels. Over the years they have ranged from gas delivery tanker trucks to helicopters, flat bed trucks, fire engines, boats, and planes. The truck will be in the Hess company colors of green and white, emblazoned with the Hess logo.

Around here, you know the holiday season has started when you tune into AM radio and hear the annual Hess truck jingle; “The Hess truck’s here and it’s better than ever!”. It may not sound like much, but it’s being sung to the tune of “My Boyfriend’s Back”, and you have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day. (“Hey now, hey now, the Hess truck’s back!”) They’re usually available only from around Thanksgiving until Christmas, or until supplies last.

“Maybe this year it will be a boat!” Mr. C said to me a few days ago.

“I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see”.

We were at a Hess station over the weekend, they had a poster up announcing this year’s version. I tried to distract Mr. C to make sure he didn’t see it. I think it worked.

It’s not a boat though, looks like it’s going to be a some kind of plane with a truck that carries it.

Looks like the tradition may be ending soon though. Hess has sold off their retail gas station operations and all stations will be rebranded with the new owner’s name by 2016. At least it’ll be around a year or two more.

Origami Master

I’m constantly looking for new things to do to keep Mr. C fully activated, so earlier this week I displayed my mastery of the ancient art of origami.

He was very impressed with my skill at making airplanes. Using scissors to cut the wings in the shape you want and then using masking tape to hold the two pieces of paper together is actually allowed under the rules of origami.



We then moved on to making a boat. I said it would be OK if he wanted to use the new boat in the tub. Mr. C didn’t think the boat would float and would just turn into a wet pile of mush if he used it in the tub. It just needs some more masking tape to make it seaworthy! Or it could be used as a hat instead.



So then we advanced to the master level of origami. A paper plane in the shape of a F15 jet fighter!




This is a ten minute video showing how a single piece of paper can be made into the shape of a jet fighter I watched it several times, watching closely as the master carefully folded the paper. I rewound the video frequently, trying to figure out what an “inverted fold” and a “mountain fold” is. The video has more than 14 million views. I probably account for close to 1 million of those 14 million.

This is what I came up with.





It’s back to simple glider planes for me.




Missing: Sharkie



One of Mr. C’s favorite toys is a small Lego shark. It came as an accessory of their Coast Guard helicopter set. It’s less than two inches long, white, with a mouth that can open and be made to bite Dada’s finger if he holds it out when instructed by Mr. C. He sometimes puts it in his pocket and will sometimes show it to people he meets. ‘I have a shark!’ Not very often, maybe twice a month or so. I usually don’t even know when he has it.

Yesterday C, Ms. J, and I all took a trip to a local playground. It’s not the closest playground to us, but it’s the largest in the area, about a fifteen minute drive away. Since it was a sunny and warm day, it was packed with kids. While he was running around, I saw him take the little shark out of his pocket and show it to a little girl. He’s on his way to being quite the flirt, he’ll start off with something like ‘Wow, you’re shoes are sparkly!’, and then move on to ‘I have a pet shark!’, and then ‘Let’s play tag!’.

‘Oh, he has the shark with him’ I thought. I try to monitor when he has it since I’m sure he would be very upset if he ever lost it. ‘I’ll have to make sure he holds onto that!’ Since he was running around so much, I didn’t get a chance to see if he had put it back in his pocket though.

Ms J and I ended up being recruited to play ‘trolls’ so we ran around chasing a bunch of the kids around the slides and swings. After an hour or so of running around with a number of kids, C was looking exhausted, so we made our way out to run a few errands. I may have been more exhausted than he was though. That was quite a bit more running around than I had expected to do. We then went to the supermarket, and a craft store to pick up some supplies for a project C wanted to work on. Then it was back home.

On the way home, C asked from the backseat. ‘So, where is ‘Sharkie’, Dada?’

‘ I thought you had him.’

‘We’ll look for him under the car seat when we get home’ Ms. J said. ‘Maybe you just dropped him in the car when you got in.’

I look in the rearview mirror, and see his expression change to one of utter sadness. His shoulders slump, he lets out a huge sigh and is quiet for the rest of the trip.

When we get home, we search the car. Under the seat. Under his car seat. Under the front seat. Even looking in the trunk in the mistaken belief that we had opened the trunk at some point when we were leaving the playground.

I remember losing favorite toys like that when I was a kid, and how upsetting it was. Where was I last?, where did I put it?, maybe I left it at a friend’s house?

One memorable incident was a lost Matchbox car I had been playing with in my backyard when I was about seven. Days later I remembered where it might be. Down a drainpipe next to the basement. I told my Dad where I thought it might be and he went out to the pipe with a small magnet tied to a string and fished the car out of the drain. There were plenty of other times though when my Dad would just say ‘Oh well, you just have to watch where you put your toys’, in his best ‘Let this be a lesson for you’ tone.

We go inside the house and check C’s pockets. Front and back pockets of his pants. Nope, no sharkie. Mr. C slumps down onto the sofa. ‘Oh well, Sharkie is gone, I guess’.

J and I review our steps. Did C have it when we were in the supermarket, or in the craft store. No, we didn’t see him with it when we were in either store, it must be in the playground.

So, should I go with the ‘Let this be a lesson for you’ solution or should I be inspired by my Dad’s search with the string and magnet. I decide to go with the string and magnet solution and drive back to the playground to begin the most likely futile search for the 2 inch long sharkie.

I search and search the playground. Under slides, under swings, under trees, in the grass, in the woodchips, outside the gate, in the parking lot. No sharkie. Sharkie is gone. I think I looked for it about a half hour in the playground and another fifteen minutes or so in the parking lot.

By now I have been away for more than hour. When I arrive back home, C is making a ‘Missing’ poster that we’ll put up at the playground tomorrow.

Here it is. There’s a picture of the shark, with small tabs that we would write our phone number on for people to call with information.



Ms. J can see from my expression that I have not had any luck with the search. C is still sad, but he’s more interested in making the poster than he is in being upset. Ms. J has a new idea that should help in the search, maybe C can trace his steps and remember where he dropped it.

‘Hey, where did you put Sharkie after you showed it to that little girl’ Ms. J asks.

‘I gave it to Dada to hold onto so I wouldn’t loose it, and he put it in his pocket’

I checked my pockets… and there it was.