Underwater Sea King’s Alien Ship

After seeing the instructions that Gloria put together for her LEGO creation, Ezra wanted to do the same for an “Alien Ship” he had put together. So it was back to Bricksmith this afternoon. Assembly was much quicker the second time using the tools, and in fairly short order we prepared his LDraw modellic file, and instructions PDF. I was informed that this was not just any ship; “Daddy, this is the Underwater Sea King’s Alien Ship.”

When we finished, Ezra promptly disassembled his ship and put the pieces into their own bin (just like we do for sets we purchase).

Down the LDraw Rabbit Hole

During the pandemic, the kids have been doing a lot of LEGO building. This has been a great activity to keep them busy, but there is one recurring challenge that comes along with it. Things start innocuously enough with a new creation. Everyone will admire it, and then later one of the kids will want to reclaim the LEGOs for a new creation, and an explosive fight will ensue.

Cue the latest conflict. Last week the kids received a Darth Vader’s Castle for Chanukah. While waiting for Ezra to join for the main building, Gloria and Micah put together a “hideout” for Darth Vader with some LEGOs from the set. Later in the day Micah wanted to use them for the actual Castle and BOOM! We needed new tools to resolve these recurring arguments. I asked Gloria if she’d be more amenable to taking apart their creation if I could make instructions for it so that it could be recreated later. She thought for a bit and then (only slightly begrudgingly) agreed.

I had no idea how we were going to make a LEGO instruction book, but devoted that evening to research. I discovered there is an entire subculture devoted to LEGO CAD. I followed the instructions here to get going on my MacBook, and started playing around with Bricksmith (model creator) and Web Lic (online instruction generator). After a 30 min trial run I felt ready to get to work with Gloria in the morning.

My daughter was intrigued, but also skeptical, at the beginning of the CAD process. But after a few pieces she started to get into it, and we sunk the better part of a weekend into first creating the model and then adjusting the instructions from different angles, and with different sub-models. Here is the final LDraw model, lic file, and instructions PDF. Follow the instructions and make your own personal Darth Vader’s Hideout!

Along Came a Spider…

A few weeks ago Micah asked if we could make a “remote control bat” to scare mommy and grandma on Halloween. While I was up for a creation, and a bat sounded like fun, the whole aerodynamics bit seemed complicated. Fortunately I was able to negotiate him to a land creature. At that point I figured if I found a small remote control car and some black pipe cleaners we could handle the rest with supplies at hand.

Even with Prime shipping I was almost too late, but I managed to find a reasonably priced 3 inch car that arrived on Friday. Which meant the Halloween morning activity was “figure out how to build a spider around the car. Enter black felt and our trusty glue gun. First we found an extra cap from a long gone plastic container (fun fact: Lauren and I bought this container in a Kampala Nakumatt). to make for a proper bulge on his back we broke off the tops of two plastic spoons and glued them on top of the lid. Then we covered the whole thing with a piece of black felt. Pipe cleaners made for some fuzzy legs, and then we made a spider head from black duct tape and googly eyes.

Next step: mounting the car. The wheels were oversized so that the car could do “cyclone mode” (which the kids loved). So we needed to improvise a mounting column. Fortunately we are flush with cardboard. After a little work with my favorite two kids creation tools (Xacto knife + glue gun), we were all set!

Spider all ready for the car to be attached by duct tape
Ready to roll!
Isn’t he cute?

The boys were really happy to surprise mommy, grandma, and cousin Miri with their big spider coasting into the hallway. Here’s them practicing their piloting skills:


Back to (Remote) School

Today Ezra joined his older siblings for his first day at McGilvra (technically Gloria and Micah’s second day). Pandemic education is quite a different setup, but the kids got decked out in their spirit wear for the virtual all-school assembly, and they seem to be taking it impressively well. And at least they are all on the same schedule, we’ll see how juggling working and schooling from home goes (fingers crossed). Family goal for this year is to sustain the smiles through the year. Off we go!


The Little Kitten

The kids had a play date this morning, where our friend told us that his daughter has been setting up a stand in front of their house for selling art to passersby.

She did a brisk business drafting personalized cards for mother’s day and this morning was working on some storybooks. This was a lot of fun for Gloria, who never tires of reading and writing.

IMG_6066Artists at work

Here’s the result, a short story about a kitten that makes a friend:






Anime Self Portraits

Wednesday evening was a Vocal Concert at Gloria and Micah’s elementary school. Each class sang a few songs conducted by the music teacher. Following the concert we had the opportunity to view “The Art of Anime.”

Each year the students create self-portraits according to a theme. This year the students requested that the portraits be “anime-inspired” (last year’s theme was Picasso).  In preparation for the evening they made “galleries” for each class in different sections of the building. It was a fun Art Walk with an associated scavenger hunt, where we had to find Totoro amidst each gallery.

Of course my personal highlight was finding Gloria and Micah’s self portraits during my walk. Here they are:



There is a Monster Under My Bed!

Over winter break, Gloria stumbled across This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas. While she liked the song, as she listened to it more it started really affecting her behavior. Gloria was obsessing about monsters being under her bed (something that I don’t remember her ever worrying about before). She even woke Lauren up at 4am to ask what she should do if a monster was in her room, and Gloria was hesitant to go back to bed.

In discussing with her it seemed these two phrases really dug their claws into her imagination:

I am the one hiding under your bed
Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red

I am the one hiding under your stairs
Fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair

Gloria was getting more frightened and obsessed about monsters until what seems to have been an inflection point on Sunday. That evening, just as I was getting ready to tuck Gloria in for the night, she lay on the floor earnestly drawing a picture. Upon completion she gave it a good look, and it seemed like she was going to put it under her bed. Then she handed it to me, asked for it back, folded it up, and gave it to me with instructions to “put it in my closet.” When I asked what it was, Gloria informed me it was a “monster attractor.” I guess the theory is that by putting this attractor in the closet and closing the door any monsters would go to the closet and not under her bed.


Here we are a week later and it seems that Boo-boo Boy and his friends are serving their purpose. I haven’t heard any concerns about monsters under Gloria’s bed or anywhere else!

Welcome to Rocket Town

Ezra got Rocket Town for his birthday, but then it got buried in the back of our bookshelf for months. Recently the kids rediscovered it and it quickly became a favorite for both boys when they are upstairs.

Generally they read it to each other on the potty, but this morning after breakfast they set up a “bus” in the kitchen for reading time. I managed to catch them on video in a short clip that does a good job summarizing their sibling interactions at this age. For those unfamiliar with the book, the rocket Ezra is pointing to midway through is the shark rocket (his favorite).