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 model, lic 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).
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!
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!
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:
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).
Since we’ve returned from Europe I’ve noticed that Micah and Ezra are playing very well together, including each other in their activities, and initiating lots of hugs (in both directions). It’s especially gratifying to watch Micah play along with Ezra’s imaginative play and letting his brother be “the leader” at times.
“Cooking” at Powell Barnett Park
Musical book time!
Camping together at grandma’s
U District park buddies
This morning I found them playing together with some empty boxes in the office – Micah had put one of his K’nex motors into the box and was flying his “plane.” Fortunately I was quick enough with the video to catch this morning’s action: