Jedi Mind Tricks

I might have mentioned that we have a lot of Legos in this house.  A lot of Star Wars Legos.  And Luke’s helmet went missing!  Or Leia’s hair is gone!  I can’t even count the number of times that Jack has asked me where a certain Lego is and I have no idea.  Usually I know where things are in this house, but the Legos are getting away from me.

First Luke himself was missing for a week or so.  He was found in a box upstairs with a bunch of other Legos – a logical place to look.  Jack supposedly searched his room intensely.  This week Luke’s helmet went missing.  Jack accused me of sucking it up in the vacuum but I knew I hadn’t.  This morning he came running into the bathroom while I was in the shower yelling, “I found it!  I found Luke’s helmet!”  It was stuck in between a couple other Legos on a spaceship that he has been playing with daily.  

The new storage containers are helping with the Legos and other Star Wars gear, but Casey is not.  Casey has decided to play mind games with Jack.  Last week, Jack couldn’t find one of the nerf missiles for his gun.  Casey told him that she knew where it was.  Jack asked her question after question about where it was.  First she told him it was in his bedroom.  Then she said it was in his closet.  He went to look but couldn’t find it.  He made her come up and show him where it was.  She went with him and told him it was on the top shelf in his closet.  Jack called downstairs for one of us to help him.  When asked if he could actually see the nerf missile, he said no.  Then Casey told him it was actually in the playroom.  They went to the playroom and he looked around.  Then she said it was downstairs.

I figured out early on that Casey was just messing with him.  He believed every word she said and when they finally came downstairs he said, “I think Casey’s using the force and Jedi mind tricks to move it around!”  I just laughed.

At first I felt bad that he was so gullible to her stories, but the next day he was pretending to be a baby and he must have sent Casey upstairs about 5 times to fetch him things that he “needed” because he was a baby.  And she went right along with it.  I think that was his way of getting even a little bit.  

Lego Organization

About a year ago, I thought I had come up with a great solution for Lego storage.  It worked for a while but lately it seems that the Legos have exploded again and I was ready for something new.

First I have to show the solution to Lego storage from 25 years ago!  Jenn and I used this box for our Legos when we were little girls.  Jack first started playing with Legos a couple years ago when we were in Maine for a couple weeks and I pulled this box out of the attic.  Now, he has more Legos as a 5 year old than Jenn and I ever did.

As retro as the box looks and as much nostalgia as there is with it, it’s not the greatest storage system.  Even as a girl, I remember digging and digging and digging through that box looking for the right pieces.  Jack’s collection quickly outgrew it so I figured out a new system.  I bought the plastic container with drawers on the right.  The big bins on the left have some “overflow” Legos and other toys.  These drawers kept the toys organized and separated but there was a lot more pulling things out than putting things away on Jack’s part.

I bought little containers (at the dollar store) to hold different types of Legos and I divided them all up – wheels, angled pieces, windows, doors, other special pieces in this drawer.

Army guys, minifigures, flat pieces and very small pieces.

Instructions, long bricks and bigger block-shaped bricks.

Creations that were small enough to fit in the drawer

Extra boxes.  I used old wipe containers to keep certain sets together and for when we were travelling and I need to throw a bunch in a box.

But, like I said, the Legos were exploding all over the house again.  Jack has been building up his Star Wars Legos collection and the house has turned into a galaxy with different pieces of furniture as planets and the floor as space.  I did a little Google search and found a blog where she used fishing tackle boxes for Lego storage.  I envisioned the typical tackle box that folds out and thought that would be great for Jack’s Star Wars Legos – a big area of the bottom for the spaceships and smaller compartments for the little pieces.  We left the house that afternoon to find one.  I got this big one.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it was what Jack wanted.  The good guys have a shelf, the bad guys have a shelf and the spaceships live on the bottom.  (It’s a little empty right now…I think there’s a battle going on in the dining room.)

I also saw some plastic boxes that looked like they would work and when Casey and I made a trip to Walmart last week, I found exactly what I was looking for:  plastic boxes with dividers and handles.  These two are for Casey’s Legos.

While waiting three hours for new tires last week, I put one of these boxes in my bag and we had instant entertainment.  I’m hoping they will play with them in the car next week when we have a long car ride to Maine.  I would love to glue one of the flat base boards to the top of them, but the boxes are not quite flat on the top.

I got Jack a bigger one and one the same size as Casey’s.  I love that the Legos all have their own spaces and they stay in their spaces when you pick them up.  For all the Legos they hold, they are pretty compact.  These two hold most of Jack’s Legos (that aren’t being used) but I just bought him another big one because they don’t all fit in here.  But it still takes up less space than the drawers.  Now he can pull out one of these boxes and drag it to wherever he is working and when he’s done he can just close the lid and put it away.

In the end, it’s really only me who is excited about these containers.  And me who organized them all into different sections.  And me who will reorganize them when they get messed up. But it makes me happy.

Golf Camp and Children’s Museum

It feels a little like winter here except we’re stuck inside because of the heat instead of the cold.  Jack had golf camp last week from Monday to Thursday and was outside for most of the time.  He was very glad that there was an unlimited supply of lemonade to cool him.  He was also very excited about the “twisters” that he got to eat for a snack.  I’m pretty sure those were Twizzlers.  He helped himself to five of them and was pretty pleased with himself.

On day 2 of golf camp, Jack got a blister but that didn’t stop him from hitting all his balls on the driving range.  He looked pretty pathetic dragging his golf clubs across the course by the end of camp, but we fixed him up with a bandaid and he was fine.

Overall I think he had a great time at camp.  They played a lot of fun games and hit a lot of balls.  He was the youngest boy there but he knew what he was doing and listened well to his instructors.  The golf pro at the course had seen him out there with Pat before and knew that he would be fine.

On Thursday when I went to pick him up, he was playing tag with some of the other boys…in the 100 degree heat!  I had planned to go to the pool in the afternoon but after the awards ceremony I knew that he was completely drained from the heat.  Too bad that doesn’t mean he’s too drained to fight with his sister.

To get out of the house on Friday we headed to the Portsmouth Children’s Museum.  It’s been closed for renovations for about two years and this was our first trip back since the grand re-opening.  The kids had a great time…trains, bubbles, arts & crafts, science, shopping market, fire trucks, a miniature house.  I don’t think they could ask for much more.  What’s even better is that I remembered by camera and managed to get some decent shots.

Using a rope to pull himself up



We’re already five weeks into it, but Jack is playing on his first sports team this summer.  We signed him up for T-ball through the YMCA and he is loving it.  He has practice one night a week and a game on Saturday morning.

I completely forgot my camera on his first game, but I’ve since remembered to bring my camera along.  My first impression of 3 to 5 year old T-ball was that it didn’t seem very organized but Pat made fun of me and told me this was just what we wanted for Jack’s first experience.  It was just a little bit like herding cats.  I didn’t play any sports until 5th grade so there weren’t any kids throwing tantrums then because they didn’t want to bat.

Jack has been very excited to play and he likes to practice every night in the backyard.  When he gets on the field during games, you can tell that he feels nervous.  He is uncomfortable when he doesn’t know exactly what he is supposed to be doing.  (It reminds me of when he first learned to talk – he didn’t want to say the word unless he was absolutely sure that he would say it correctly.)  I imagine with a bunch of people yelling on any given play that it is a little confusing to figure out what to do.  As the weeks go on, he is becoming more comfortable.  He has been playing first base and is starting to get the hang of what he needs to do every play.  He’s also got his Dad’s intensity so he’s gives it 100% and I think he tries to hit a home run every time.  You can see it in his face.

The team has come a long way in just 4 games and 4 practices.  I think they’ve realized that it is not rugby and there is no longer a scrum while everyone tries to get the ball after it is hit.  They’ve figured out the batting order and how the innings work and to throw the ball to first after every hit.  They’re learning to stand in line and shake hands at the end of the game.  And they definitely know to look for a good snack after the game!

What is amazing to me is that the coach’s older son is just a couple years older than Jack and he’s pretty much got baseball figured out.  He stands out there and plays catch with the kids and helps coach and it’s pretty amazing what a difference two years will make.

This has been a great experience for Jack.  Casey could have played too…I didn’t realize that 3 year olds could play, but for now she is Jack’s #1 cheerleader and she stays busy during the games by climbing all over Pat and I and moving her water bottle from cup holder to cup holder.

A little coaching before he the inning starts

I don’t know how I capture this but his face is weird…and hilarious!


Maryland Crabs

While we were in Ocean City last week, we went to Hooper’s so the guys could get crabs one night.  Jack was also very excited about getting crabs.  He kept saying, “I love crabs!  I can’t wait to have crabs tonight!”  This is the same child who doesn’t like chicken or hot dogs or bananas or jelly on his pb&j.  But he was thrilled about going to get crabs.

As soon as the waitress brought the mallet and the tray of crabs, Jack was ready to start pounding away.  Unfortunately the art of actually getting the crab out of the legs requires a little more finesse than Jack possesses.  Much to my surprise, he did eat a couple of bits of crab and said that he liked it.  I think it was just taking a little too much time for it to get in front of him.

But when Daddy and Pop Pop were done with their crabs, Jack and Casey did a fine job pounding the bodies to bits with the mallets.  And that made for one of the most fun meals they have probably ever had!

Star Wars Birthday Party

We had a birthday party for Jack on the 3rd and invited all of our friends.  My goal was for a simple but mostly homemade party.  A lot of the work I wanted to get done a couple weeks before the party didn’t happen because I was sick and then we went on vacation.  Thankfully, my goal of simple allowed us to get everything done on Saturday and Sunday morning.  
Jack originally asked for a Darth Vader cake.  I was going to buy the Wilton cake mold but I procrastinated.  Every cake I looked at on the internet looked so elaborate and I really didn’t want to put a lot of effort into the decorating.  While I was looking around the blog world one day, Jack saw some Star Wars cupcakes that had little plastic toppers.  I was going to order some but then I found some free printables (at Skip to my Lou) and as soon as he said he liked them, I printed them out and cut out the circles.

Jack asked for strawberry cake with chocolate frosting so I found some recipes.  They both turned out pretty to be pretty tasty!

I made lightsabers out of foam pool noodles and some duct tape.  Actually, Pat made the lightsabers.  I envisioned a big lightsaber battle in the back yard but mostly there were occasional duels.  These were also the parting gifts for all the kids along with some Lego shaped candy that I found at a candy store.  You can build with it and then eat it!

Lightsaber Arsenal

 A couple hours before party, I texted everyone to bring bathing suits.  It was really hot so we set up the slip’n’slide.

The boys were having fun with Jack’s car wash

Pat worked the grill to cook burgers and dogs.  I picked up some fresh corn on the cob from the farmers market, made a broccoli salad, sliced up a watermelon and made some lemonade to complete dinner.  Simple, easy and delicious.  Especially since Pat did the grilling.

 We also had a pinata.  I wish I could capture how Jack says it.  It’s very enunciated – pin – yata.  I guess I have no pictures of it.  Jack wanted a Death Star.  My original plan was to find a soccer ball pinata and paint the white spots grey.  But the party store had a disco ball that happened to look like a Death Star…maybe just a little bit shinier!  Pat filled it with Star Wars fruit snacks and the kids took turns pulling strings until it spilled its goodies.  (I originally had no idea that you have to fill your own pinata.)

We sang a little happy birthday tune and Jack blew out all his candles.

He then proceeded to eat his cake like it was his first birthday instead of his fifth!  He said it was too crumbly and that’s how he had to eat it.

And I couldn’t not post this picture of Casey and her beautiful smile as she gets ready to eat her cupcake.

I was tired (and so was Jack) by the end of it but I told Pat it was my favorite birthday party that we’d had.  The next morning Jack said, “I’m really lucky that all my friends got me such great presents!  We’ll have to send them thank you notes.”

Summer Sprinkler

I am so proud of this project!  Today I made a fun sprinkler/bike wash for the kids.  Disney’s Family Fun magazine had a deluxe version of it but a blog called Simple Simon & Co had a pretty simple version that I copied.

Once I got all the parts I needed, it only took 20 minutes to make.  And that was with 2 impatient children trying to “help.”

It was the trip to Lowe’s that was the hardest part.  The lawnmowers were an instant distraction.  Jack wanted to sit on them and he wanted me to take pictures.  So I did.

Casey likes the pricier one!

I found the pvc piping.  They come in 10 foot lengths.  I knew they would fit in the car but trying to push them around Lowe’s in a cart was no simple task.  Jack and Casey were trying to help with the fittings I needed.  “How about this one, Mommy?”  Jack helped so much that when we checked out, I realized that the T joints that he was in charge of were not in the cart.  Instead of pushing my cart with its 10 foot poles around, I elected to take things out to the car and then we headed back into the store.

The second time around I found the correct fitting to connect my pipes to a garden hose.  It would have been a sad sad story if I had put this all together and then found out I couldn’t connect it to my hose.  I also snuck by the plumbing man to grab the pvc pipe cutting tool.  Earlier, he was pretty adamant that I didn’t need it and I could just use a hacksaw.  I decided it was worth the money to buy the tool because I was pretty sure it would make the whole process of creating this easier.  I couldn’t picture myself trying to use the hacksaw and answer 3000 questions from Jack and Casey and still remain patient and still keep all my fingers.

In the meantime, Jack and Casey turned their T joints into guns and then into microphones and then they wanted to sit in different seats in the cart and then they wanted to go back by the lawnmowers.  I was very happy to leave and get home with my parts.

After a little measuring, a little oomph to cut the pipes, some drilling to make holes and a little assembling, I was very happy with the results.  The kids were very happy too.  They took all their cars, bikes, trikes, scooters and lawnmowers through the car wash.  It made the trip to Lowe’s worth it and the 90+ degree heat more bearable.  And I smile every time I look at my handiwork!

Jack is 5!

It’s been a whirlwind of 5 days since Jack turned 5!  (And a little bit of a whirlwind before that too.)  When Jack woke up this morning, he said pretty emphatically, “Mommy, I’m 5 now!”  The parties are over and the presents are all unwrapped and I think he finally realizes that he is 5.  Or “a whole hand” as he told his Nana.

We celebrated his actual birthday in Ocean City with his Nana and Pop Pop.  He had some very specific requests for his big day.  He wanted us to get up before him and be in the living room ready to surprise him.  Since he’s been getting up at 6am lately, it was a pretty early morning, but we were happy to oblige the birthday boy.  I guess it was a lot like Christmas because we woke up early, opened presents and spent the rest of the morning putting Legos together.

Lightsaber pen

More pieces for his nano/hex bug toy.  Casey got her own bug too.

Darth Jack

 Jack didn’t want to leave the house much because he had new toys but he also requested mini golf so we headed to the one he had picked out.  It was the prettiest mini golf course I’ve seen.  The hibiscus were gorgeous.  Jack and Casey played 18 and then we had some ice cream and listened to some stories about miraculous frog rescues from the course caretaker.  (Some got stuck in the pipes and they survived.)

Jack dined surrounded by his new Legos at lunchtime.

Nana made Jack a very special Star Wars cake with Darth Vader and Luke figures with lightsabers.  He also had his dinner of choice – pasta with pesto.  Because every really picky 5 year old loves pesto.

The cake was delicious, then we spent a little bit of time at the beach and then Jack fell asleep with his new Legos in hand.