Sunday, March 8, 2015

Jumping Rope for Ducks

Godzilla just started at a new school, after we uprooted the family and moved to a new city. One of the first things he came home with from his new class, was a donation kit for Jump Rope for Heart. He walked in to the house so very excited about getting on with the fundraising. No small part of his excitement stemmed from the fact that he could earn amazing prizes at different levels for funds raised. The biggest draw were these little rubber ducks. The joy on his face as he told me all about which ducks he wanted shone like the sun. "Look at this one Dad! It's called splatter duck, because it looks like he's all splattered with paint!" and "I really want this one, because it looks like he's a super spy!" Words spilled out of his mouth at a rate I rarely hear, and this kid can talk!

He also told me about how he was working out in gym class to learn about heart health and how important it is to stay active through the Jump Rope for Heart campagn. This is where I began to get impressed with his excitement for Jump Rope for Heart.

Anyone can get excited about getting prizes, but to get excited about making change as well, gets me excited.

Of course, heart disease affects a lot of people, many in his own life, whether he realizes it or not. One in every four deaths in the US is from heart disease. Both my wife and my's families have histories of heart problems. There have been heart attacks, heart surgeries, heart medications, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. etc. etc. It's all sitting there, right under his nose, and he's learning how to take care of his heart. He's learning how important it is, he's learning what he can do for himself and for others around him, to promote heart health. And moreover, he is raising money so that knowledge can be passed on. He is raising money for research, for new medications, and so that new treatments can be discovered.

Sure, there's also this duck he still desperately wants to earn... If you want to check out his progress, or throw your support behind his Jump Rope for Heart campaign, check out his fundraising website!

Of course, you shouldn't take my word for it, he has his own sales pitch:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Stuff My Kids Say XIV

"I have two hypothesiseses (that one kind of got away from him) about my sister:

1. She will turn into a really nice person who is not annoying and likes me.

- or -

2. She will be more annoying and ignore me even more than she already does."

     - Godzilla, age 6.

Somehow, even at the age of six, this kid summed up the relationship he'll have with his sister over next 20 years pretty expertly. Of course, option two will come well before option one, but eventually she'll get there. I think most of us do. Sometimes it amazes me, the clarity of youth.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wonder Woman Duct Tape Boots

My daughter has wanted to dress up as Wonder Woman for Halloween for years. Somehow though, we have never gotten her the costume to do it. She has had Supergirl outfits, every princess dress ever, capes, crowns, and magic wands, but every time we approach October, her focus drifts off of Wonder Woman, and she latches onto another costume. As a result, we've just never made her Amazonian dreams come true.

Until this year.

Halloween Costume

We nearly got sidetracked this fall too, as it has been the year of the dragon for her. Witches, Red Riding Hood, princess', and butterflies I could do, but constructing a dragon costume on a shoestring budget was not going to happen. Ultimately, we found this great Wonder Woman nightgown to use as the base of her costume, she had a crown already from a cereal box DC promotion earlier this year. All we were missing was the boots.

Do a quick search for red leather knee-high boots in women's size 9. I can wait (just don't lose this page!) My results came back with anywhere from $35 - $100! That kind of goes against the idea of costuming on a budget. So naturally, I turned to Pinterest. What? We might not be as well represented, but dads can use Pinterest too. One post turned up again and again on making duct tape boots, and that served as the foundation for Nat's footwear. However, the tutorial was for Musketeer boots, which had a little different styling than Wonder Woman, so I had to make some adjustments.

At their base, you'll need a pair of shoes, a pair of old tall socks, colored duct tape, and optional card stock to help form the leg/peak on your Wonder Woman boots.

1. Ballet flats are easy to slide on and off, and since no tape actually sticks to the shoes, she can use them on their own without the boots if she wants to go out as Diana Prince once in a while. Not shown here is white tape and the socks. Any socks will do, but try to find a pair that comes at least midway to her knee.

2. I found an old pair of my own socks to donate to the cause, but a pair of new knee-highs will cost you less than two dollars if you don't have a pair to sacrifice. Put on the shoes, and then the socks over them.

3. Start wrapping each foot with red duct tape. I started with a strip over the toes, followed by the heal, (as one would when wrapping a foot with athletic tape) trying to be neat, but know that you can always add another layer to line up your edges if you need.

4. We used some card stock to create the iconic peak at the top of Wonder Woman's boots. Wrap a piece around her calf at the height you want the boots to be to make sure it covers the area you need. Then freehand the shape you want the peak to take and cut it out. Finally, use a piece of tape to attach it to the top of the sock. You can run card stock all the way down to the ankle for added integrity if you wish.

5. Keep methodically wrapping the foot with red tape. If you have a fabric tape measure, you can measure her leg and cut the tape into exact length strips. We simply used the eyeball test. To help keep down the number of visible seams, be sure to make the ends meet in the front, as it will ultimately have a white stripe running right up the front, covering the ends. Don't worry too much about bringing the red over the top of your peak, as it too will have a white stripe along it.

6. Now you will need to cut the boot off so that she can get her foot in and out as needed. The shoe will help it hold it's shape, as will the card stock on top. Carefully cut a straight line either down the side, or as we did, straight down the front where the stripe will be.

6.1. just a few tips. If you want a little more wiggle room to put the boot on again once it is finished, consider wearing jeans while making each boot, and stretching the sock over the top of the pant legs. Also, when deciding where to cut the boot open, consider how you expect to close it up again for each use. A one time use can be done with more duct tape to close it up, and hold it together as she walks, but if you want multiple uses, you may want a more permanent solution. Craft zippers can be picked up at your local big box or craft store, then attached with staples (pointy parts facing out) and duct tape from the underside of the opening. Alternately, you can use an eyelet punch if you have one, or feel like dropping $20 on one. With eyelets, you can then use shoestring to tie the opening up, but that doesn't really fit with the Wonder Woman look.

7. Rip a long piece of white duct tape in half lengthwise for the stripe up the front of each boot, and wrap a full piece over the lip on top, following the contour of the peak to sell that signature look of a classic superheroine boot.

8. We decided after a trial run that the slit cut up the front was not the best way to keep these boots on, so we taped up our original cut and made a new one down the inside of each boot, as you would find in a normal pair. At this point, we also attached red zippers to the opening for the multi-use boots I mentioned above in 6.1. Be sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the boot, as you'll have to stretch the zipper a bit to slide your foot in, which may pop a few staples.

And now we should be done! Time to don the rest of your costume and become a mighty girl!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain

I think it's confession time.

We have a bit of a superhero problem in this house.

It's not uncommon for us to be invaded by Superman, the Flash, random Avengers, Wonder Woman, etc. As a result, our closet has no shortage of costumes for the kids to dress up in (and me from time to time, if we're being honest). The kids have all the action figures, we've seen all the shows (Netflix has proven invaluable with all the cartoons the kids have had access to.) Free Comic Book Day is an annual outing, both the older kids have their favorites. Santa would in fact get hate mail from our address if he didn't provide a little superhero fix on December 25th.

I don't think there is anything wrong with our obsession, mind you. I love the idea of superheroes. They show us a better version of ourselves. They provide an example to aspire to, even if we will never be able to fly or shoot webs from our wrists, or compel the truth from someone by throwing a lasso around them. They vanquish evil, stand up for the weak, and affect change in those around them.

So, we play dress up. We imagine. We let the worlds of Marvel and the DC universe overtake our living room. And soon, the two boys and their heroes will be moving into the same bedroom. A room overrun with mutants and aliens and defenders of truth and justice is exactly what Godzilla wants, and exactly what he wants to share with his baby brother.

A superhero themed room though needs superheroes to fill the walls, so who should go up first, but the first of them all. Action Comics #1 staring Godzilla as the Man of Steel. Maybe you remember it, maybe you don't (go ahead, take a look, he makes a good Superman). The second thing will be the other iconic American hero, Captain America. And what more iconic image of Cap is there than the cover Jack Kirby and Stan Lee put together after JFK's assassination. While this cover may not be as recognizable as AC1, It is one of Marvel's most important.  It was a story of a man out of time who represented the strength of democracy and perseverance. It showed that we can overcome our trials based on our will power and conviction, and that is a message I want my kids to learn. Who wouldn't want to embody such a message? Combine Captain America with Iron Man, Thor, Ant Man, and Wasp, and you have the perfect template to base another anchor to the boy's room.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Stuff My Kids Say XIII

"In 10 or 12 seconds or minutes they'll be thawed."
     - Godzilla, age 5.

The poor kid is just waiting for a frozen sandwich to thaw, but he can't quite work out the math of how time works. We'll be starting kindergarten in a manner of weeks, and it looks like Kate and I have some work to do! Time can be a tricky thing though, especially when as parents we're quick to say "You have five minutes left" and then promptly forget to set a timer. Those five minutes might take 30 one day and two the next, as our only time-keeper is how badly we want the activity to either end or continue.

Perhaps he's just embracing his inner Doctor Who, and time, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint is more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

Either way, it makes a difference if it's minutes or seconds, and it's about time we helped him work that out!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Breakfast and Cartoons

I like drawing.

My kids like to eat.

So, it wasn't a huge leap for me to connect the two.

The genius of this project however, is that beyond drawing, I like to sleep.

Once the kids were old enough that I could trust them to eat unsupervised, I started sketching some of their favorite cartoon characters on post-it notes. I picked ones which each of them individually liked more than the other, so there would be no confusion. I then stuck them to Correlle lids and filled two bowls with some of their favorite cereal. Place a cup of milk for each of them in the fridge, and I found myself an extra half hour of sleep.

The early ones were simple pencil sketches with a single highlight color.

I branched out a bit in the next ones, adding more color, perhaps refining the lines with ink, but the trick was to really leave the process organic, as the original idea was to give myself a little bit of a break.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Cats in the Cradle

I grew up in a house of song. My parents would sing to me and my brothers. We sang at family reunions. We sang at church. We sang in the shower, and yes, we even sang on car trips.

When it comes to the most memorable songs from my childhood though, they are all sung in my dad's voice.

Songs from his youth at summer camp. Songs by classic rockers and singer-songwriters. Songs straight from the hymnals. And of course, among those songs was Harry Chapin's classic "Cats in the Cradle". It's a song that I cherished as a kid, because what good father's son doesn't want to "be like him"?