Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Better than lost treasure

I found a big box at work. Moms don't see garbage, we see kids toys. After all, they really just want the box, not the expensive toy inside. I've seen plenty of boxes become car garages over the summer. So why not a clubhouse?

I remember, as a kid, my mom getting a new fridge. She put the box out on the front porch until garbage day came. I cut a door and a window in it, and before I knew it, we were trying to fit 5 neighborhood kids inside. We had the whole thing colored with markers, we wrote no boys allowed on it. We, girls, did let in 2 boys at the same time by themselves, but we kicked them out after a minute.
Kids love places to call their own. Growing up in the 80's, I had a tent for over my bed that looked like a pink house. I lived in that thing. The box came later, but I was old enough to appreciate the lack of privacy you get in a family household. It only lasted a couple of days, it got too waterlogged after a good rain, and went out with the trash.
I brought the box inside and decorated it while the kids were asleep, so they didn't see it til morning. I drew on this with crayons, and let them do the same. I drew a door on the front, made a back window, flowers on one side, and a tree on the other. I'm surprised that it's still standing and not completely wrecked after about a month. It's even taken some not-so-pleasant tumbles off the couch with a kid in it. They thought it was hilarious, Mom did not. It's been called Mickey Mouse's clubhouse, as well as a zombie house. And yes, it fits both twins.
So if you ever find yourself in possession of a large box, they make the best gifts and memories.

Train Engineer, City Planner, Mom

If you know boys, you know they like trains. We initially found a used train table on craigslist cheap, which we purchased for their 3rd birthday. (Their 4th birthday is right around the corner!) Luckily, it included the original instructions for set-up, so we had a guide on how to set up the tracks. After a year of the boys taking the tracks apart, we eventually figured out how to put it back together from memory. We then acquired another train table, and extra tracks from a family member. Just in time too, ours was falling apart. We moved it upstairs and downstairs too many times. So we get the new table in the house, and stare at it puzzlingly. It's smaller than the last one, which means it doesn't support the last set-up. But now, we have approximately 2 1/2 tables worth of tracks, bridges, etc. Time to get creative! This is what I came up with.
 We have 2 stations (yellow on left, red at bottom), a mountain (center) with 4 connecting tracks under it, and 2 "bridges" (top and top left) that we didn't have the space to add ramps to.
 We also have tons of trains and signs now for their city. Check out the helicopter and helipad (bottom right).
 More than 4 cars causes a derailment, as depicted by K on the red overpass going into the mountain.
I told the boys they can't take this one apart. This is the third from-scratch set-up we've done on this new table, and, by far, the best. They love lots of turns and hills. This has been set up for a couple weeks now, they really, really enjoy it!

I also had enough extra tracks that I set up more on their floor. It spanned half of their room, and was pretty basic. It was taken apart almost immediately, and I never got a picture to show just how many tracks we have now. They use up both drawers, and store larger pieces underneath. We have 2 turn tables, a round house, and a big bridge just to mention a few.

Autumn Ice Cream

Let's welcome much-anticipated autumn, while still stretching out the last days of summer. We've had our first couple of evenings where you need a hoodie. We still have nice warm days where you need the AC on in the car. I like this time of year, and we're soaking up the last weeks of nice weather. I'll be trading in flip flops for pumpkin patches in no time. Not a bad transition. This is a delicious treat for both the hot afternoons and the chilly evenings.

Autumn Ice Cream  serves 1
2 scoops vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
2 drops orange extract
Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon, clove, pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg. Blend thoroughly with a spoon and enjoy.