It’s a Lego-Lego World

How many parents out there have Lego fanatics in their family?  I tell you with great conviction we have two in our house in my boys.

I went on a trip that took me out of town a few months back and picked up two Lego Minifigure packs at the store for my boys. For anyone unfamiliar, the packages contain Lego Minifigures: tiny people equipped with various outfits and accessories. These are sold in packages that don’t reveal which character is inside so you don’t know if you are buying a new figure or one your child already has.  It’s children’s marketing at its best—once your child has one, they will want them ALL. As a parent, you will try to blindly feel your way to all the Lego Minifigures your child desires. Thankfully the packages are relatively inexpensive and my boys get great joy from them.

There are a number of reasons that Legos make the perfect toys for children:

  • They have changed immensely since I was a child and yet are still a classic
  • They capture my children’s attention for long periods of time
  • They reveal your child’s building capacity
  • They reveal your child’s creative capacity
  • They reveal your child’s willingness to look for a very tiny and very unique piece that is needed to complete a project

I used to believe (this stems from my own childhood I’m sure) that Legos were for boys, an activity fathers and sons.  Not true nowadays.  We stumbled upon a great Lego game called Creationary a few weeks ago and decided to invest in it. The game has you roll a die to select a category, choose a card within that category and then build whatever is on the card. My husband and oldest son are both really good at this game. I’m not as good. They often struggle to guess what I’ve built. “Mom, is that a spaceship?” my son asks. “No, it’s supposed to be a tree,” I say. You get the idea.  Win or lose, the game allows us to sit down as a family and have some fun, uninterrupted time together—which is much appreciated in our fast-paced lives.

I’m thankful that Legos are something my whole family can enjoy together; we’re better for it!

Rare and Valuable

The most valuable baseball card is the 1909 Honus Wagner, 2B Pittsburgh Pirates which recently sold for $2,800,000. The Kohinoor is believed to be the most expensive diamond worth by some potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. These items are considered rare and valuable. But are they the most rare and valuable things in the world?

I was recently in the grocery store perusing the card section in search of Father’s Day cards. First I focused on finding cards for my boys to give to my husband and their grandfathers. Then I focused on finding one for my own Dad from me. The range of cards was striking to me. There were humorous cards, heartfelt cards, straightforward and simple cards. A majority of Father’s Day cards revolved around a dad’s love of beer, golf, watching TV, yard work and struggle to control bodily functions. What struck me about this was how old-fashioned these card themes all sounded. The cards made it sound like dads sit on the sidelines of raising their child, and play the role of provider, yardman, and guy that has many valid excuses to check-out and not need to pay attention to the kids (e.g. they worked so hard and did so much yard work, they need to watch golf, and drink to recuperate and can’t control their body functions as a result). Sounds very 1960s or 1970s to me. Haven’t most dads evolved as parents?

My dad worked a lot and played the role of provider and yardman when we were kids. It was much more accepted and expected back then. He did make a point to spend time with my sisters and I. He made sure we always knew we were important to him, more important than his work and anything else he might have to get done. As we grew, Dad found more ways to spend meaningful time with us. Dad played golf, but did so with me, because I joined the school golf team. Dad was a runner, and when one of us took an interest, we would run together. Dad loved watching college sports, but preferred to watch games with my mom, and us girls. Aside from some of the stereotypical things, Dad was unique to us. He taught us to be independent, helped us on science projects and our math, coached us off-the-field in golf, softball and other sports, he was there for all of our important events including games, performances and milestone occasions. I thought everyone had a dad like mine.

As I grew older, I realized my dad shared similarities to many dads, but was different in many ways too. I have to admit, it was hard to find a man that I felt would be as good a father to our children as my dad was to us. I did find him though. My husband is a more evolved parent. He works a lot, and does yard work, but it’s because he enjoys doing these things. He’s been very engaged from the beginning, changing diapers, feeding our boys, burping them, and is comfortable taking care of the kids without me around. He makes time for his sons and enjoys spending time with them: watching seaplanes take off and land, building Lego sets together, and helping them as they learn new things. He realizes he has limited time with them before our sons will be grown and out on their own. I realize my husband shares similarities with many dads, but is different in many ways too.

To our family, Dad and Grandpa are rare and valuable, much more so than a one-of-a-kind diamond or baseball card.

To my father, my husband, and those fathers that put their family first and continue to change the way we look at fatherhood, thank you.

Happy Father’s Day.

Ca-Click

How do you feel when you have a special moment in your life?  A moment that you can recognize as special while it’s happening, that you want to remember for as long as you’re able?  For me, I try to be still, to take it all in and take a mental picture, attempting to remember every detail from what I can see visually, and also what I feel emotionally. Ca-click.

I have a surplus of these memories from my childhood—BBQs at a neighbors’ house, relatives or friends visiting from out of town, road trips to new places. Luckily I was able to add to my mental memory scrapbook just this past Memorial Day weekend. My husband, two boys and I headed out of town for the long weekend. My husband and I were somewhat adventurous with our plans for the family—camping one night, hiking the next day, visiting a museum, and finishing up with another hike on the final day.  We wanted the children to have a new experience, something that they will hopefully remember for a long time.

I have to admit, I was preparing myself for the trip to not be 100% enjoyable. We’d never camped with the kids and we honestly didn’t know how they would do. We’d hiked with them before but only briefly; we’d never done an hours-long hike like the one we were planning. We knew the museum would go over well because we had been there before and know it has a fantastic children’s playground. Still the fact remained that there was a considerable variety of things that could go awry. What my husband and I agreed on was to be very flexible (much more so than we normally are) and to be prepared for the worst.

Lo and behold, there was an unexpected storm–thunder and lightning included–that hit during our night of camping. Thankfully it only momentarily dampened the picture-perfect trip we hoped for; it quickly passed and the trip was all uphill from there. In the end it was a huge success. There were many times my husband and I looked at each other knowing just how special it was. We were enjoying our trip, and more importantly enjoying each other.

The children hiked 4 ½ miles the day following our night of camping.  The waterfalls along the trail were amazing; they were going at full blast. Our oldest son saw us taking pictures and asked if he could take one. He hadn’t tried out a camera before.  He snapped one picture, then another. You could see the delight on his face at his accomplishment. It was almost like he knew he would remember this trip as much by the picture as the mental memory that had just taken form. Ca-click.

 

The Case for the 16 oz. Soda

Have you heard all the fuss? Mayor Bloomberg of New York City plans to limit the cup size of soda served to a customer to 16 oz. This is getting people all up in arms with arguments from this will impede on their personal freedoms, it’s Big Brother-like, or stating the obvious, this won’t solve the larger problem—please refer back to previous blog that focused on the HBO documentary The Weight of the Nation.  In truth, while the cup size might be changed, a customer could get multiple servings and unlimited refills, if desired. So if you are really, really thirsty, you can get all the soda you want!

As a parent, I appreciate the Mayor putting this out there for discussion. I’m disappointed it’s getting so much negative feedback, particularly when we can see so many people, children in particular, at increased weights. This isn’t about the negative stigma we still associate with being “fat.” This is about helping consumers, including our children, who are relying on adults to guide them, to make healthier (I’ll even suggest better) choices.

When I was a kid, we would go to McDonald’s on occasion to eat. My husband and I were reflecting on cup sizes back then. A small was indeed, small. Medium was indeed, medium. Large was indeed, you can see where this is going, large.  In fact, I can recall my two sisters and I would get one large root beer drink to share between the three of us on road trips—three of us shared one large drink.  Seems unimaginable now.

Politicians are taking stands ranging from “…this is a good way to help educate people on making better food choices” to “don’t we have bigger issues to focus on?”  The last part kills me. Are there bigger issues, really? Were they even aware of their words? Shouldn’t our country’s citizens including our children’s health, be a top priority? We have these debates about healthcare in our country, and who should pay, but aren’t willing to discuss some potential steps, like limiting the size of soda served, in helping address the problem?

My children don’t drink soda, but I know one day they will. I am for returning to the smaller serving sizes of soda if it helps my children, their peers and our country take a step towards being a little more knowledgeable and a little healthier. I’m thankful for this recent study that shows sensible ways for parents to cut their child’s soda intake. I’m all for anyone who cares about my health and my families from researchers, doctors to Mayor Bloomberg.