The Easiest Way to Store Lego Bricks

Flashback Friday!  This one is from way back in August 2012– and is still the method in use today.

Yesterday I promised to show all of you how to sort and store Lego bricks. This Lego storage system met my two largest needs:

      1) cheap,

 

    2) easily understood by the 34, 5.5, and 3.5 year old male people.

There. You’re welcome.

Ways to Repurpose Cardboard Boxes into Storage

I told y’all about that time I took a reciprocating saw to my living room couch, only to discover that the bulk of its shape was formed by cardboard, right?

That moment changed my life– and not just from listening to the myriad of excuses from JB on why I can’t have a reciprocating saw. For all his concerns, you’d think he’s afraid that I’m going to cut a hole in the wall, or something.
The real life changing moment came when I started considering how often I paid considerable amounts of money for products that could be disposed of in curbside recycling. Which led me to all the various ways one can repurpose cardboard boxes.

Thus began my love affair with repurposing our heavy-duty cardboard boxes.

These repurposed cardboard diaper boxes lasted Z at least 6 months.

15 month old Z rocking diaper box covered in contact paper.

66 month old Z rocking his box fort.

They’ve been building various forts, beds, and hotels from these boxes all summer. Finally, a common interest.

He and E intend to grow up to be hotel typhoons (tycoons).

This has also been the summer (for me) of committing to using what’s here before buying from the store. Homeless clutter needed clearly labeled homes.

Liquor boxes are perfect– separate compartments and very strong.

So many boxes and some left over spray paint… I do love to paint.

I do love to paint.

See, the clutter just needed someone to believe in it again– to look at what-some-would-consider-trash and find future purpose.

I dig it.

I mean some of these boxes were just another brick in the wall, you know?

I had to take down a few parts of the hotel.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And, *weep* look at him, cleaning his brush!

Double imitation, double flattery, mega cheese.

You’re with me so far, right? Nodding your head, and considering all the various storage things that can be made from a leftover shoe box.

Liquor boxes, being designed to hold large glass bottles full of liquid courage are made from some really heavy-duty cardboard. Then the separate compartments? Begging to be a felt storage unit!

The best is the cost– NOTHING.

And then? Well then I saw these rough edges and thought: bias tape. But I didn’t want to use my good bias tape, because well… I have no idea. Ah-ah! Homemade bias tape– can’t be that hard!

This is where I entered the Ridiculous Zone.

Normal people don’t end up in these creative places.

At this point, the only remaining option was to:

Make a DIY Magic Wand

How to make a DIY magic wand? Yeah, sure.

What adults learn from children–if they pay attention–is that the world is a magical place. That there might be monsters under the bed, or a beanstalk that grows high into the clouds. Or, if I make the environment friendly to them, laundry gnomes.

Please, please let laundry gnomes be real!

Zach has been reading since November and his skill with it still makes my brain hurt. Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, it squeezes my heart in a vice and makes me all teary.

So when we started reading Harry Potter together (not that he couldn’t read it by himself– he just won’t) I began to consider all of the wonderful things I could do with my own magic wand.

Laundery gnomes

Then I saw some old chopsticks and got to thinking… which is how I ended up making the easiest DIY magic wands in the history of craft making.

Supply List for the Easiest Magic Wand:

      Hot glue gun

 

      Chopsticks

 

      A few beads (I used pieces from a broken mardi gras necklace)

 

    Paint

Apply hot glue to the chopstick. Twist and twirl it– uniform perfection is NOT the goal here. Let the glue harden up just a little bit.

Add a few beads. Just a few— I did a version with more beads and it looked like a bedazzled corndog.

It was at this point that I went and looked an actual image of Harry Potter’s wand. Ahem. I mixed brown and a little black to make it streaky.

Ta-da! A epoximise spell!

Easy Magnet Lesson for Preschoolers

Do you need an easy magnet lesson for preschoolers (or older)? A few months ago my mother gave the Small People a book about magnets. This morning E found it buried under some other books and requested that we go magnet fishing. Like in the book.

Well, I do love the science-y stuff, and the entire lesson plan is laid out in the book.

Stay tuned for my explanation for how to hand-carve your very own bamboo magnet fishing pole. And also how to use your regionally available fish to handcraft the fish magnets. Please don’t forget to place them all in your hand-thrown, kiln fired porcelain pond.

Or not.

Because I’m making fun of myself too, when I start thinking craziness like that. Did the above-mentioned occur to me? Yeah, for at least 6 seconds. Then I recognized how insanely stupid and time-wasteful that was for my purposes.

In this case, I needed to Just Say No to Pinterest and yes to projects that Small People could theoretically replicate without me.

Every item needed for this project could be found in my catch-all bowl bucket to my microwave. So I’m even giving myself bonus points for cleaning some crap off the counter.

I’m turning over a new leaf when it comes to this stuff. Because you know what meant more to my kids than a hand-carved magnet fishing pole?

1) Going from request to completion in less than 5 minutes. Because that never happens here.

2) Not fake smiling as I photograph their every magnet fishing moment.

3) Playing with magnets and catching fish with every cast. Trying to beat each other for catching and carrying the most objects.

Vermicomposting with Kids

I won’t say it’s a boy thing– since it isn’t. But the Small People do love insects, arachnids (spiders), and annelids (worms). Vermicomposting with kids combines all of that with dirt.

Now, because they are tech-age kids, they will dig for a few minutes, give up, then move over to stand 8.5 inches away from my leg, waiting for whatever worms I find. It makes my chest hurt that they don’t have enough patience to dig for their own worms.

Which begins the choruses of “Can I help with that?” Or, and this was my favorite since it happened right when the Jehovah’s Witnesses should have (they skipped us) walked up the driveway, the gnashing of teeth and eardrum splitting screams of: “YOU JUST TOOK MY WORM. I DON’T WANT YOU TO DO THAT.” For 38 minutes, the Smallest of the Small People loudly defended his worm against what he purported was illegal worm deportation.

A few days later, they found a DIY worm bin in one of my gardening books, beginning Vermicomposting Campaign 2012.

“Mom, can we have worm pets?”

Which, my friends, was a marked improvement last month’s campaign:
“but why can’t the termite friends live in our bedroom? We promise to keep them in the bucket!”

I will warn you, our finished project lacks a certain…polished professionalism. Which should tell you that it was indeed made almost entirely by a 5 and 3 year old. Who think it’s the best worm bin, ever.

We started the vermicomposting process a website and some youtube videos. Next, I used Z’s interest in the project to have him practice copying words/letters. The squiggly letters are in worm-font. Duh.

Then I tried to find non-internet-shipped red wigglers. Apparently you can’t just dig worms out of your backyard– who knew?

First stop, Walmart- I know, I know— but it’s less than a mile away!. Walmart locks up their bait worms, by the way. Requiring a walmart manager (as elusive as photographic evidence of Big Foot) make a worm purchase. Which didn’t much matter, since Walmart only carries a warehouse worm not good for bin composting.

Back in the car, across town to the bait store we go. Success! Return trip home, where I work on convincing the children that we will need to use a dark bin, and they suggest we use a clear bin, paint it black, but leave a window– so the worms can “see us”.

Lots of tongue-biting and cheek-chewing, after all, it’s their worm bin, right? But, it was hard. So very, very hard.

Then Zach piped up with, “look, Mom. There’s black paint right here.” I still had the black paint sitting in the kitchen. Next to the white paint from the cabinets and the eventually to be up-cycled built in shelves.

Drill air holes. Actually, let your children drill the air holes. The smallest of the Small People will first insist on appropriate hearing protection. While reading a coloring book about birds. Get it? Worms/ Birds.

Gather paint and brushes. And more damp paper towels than you will think necessary. Have mild freak out moments because you are letting 2 children paint with non-washable paint– INSIDE. Why inside? Because it’s raining pollen right now. Yellow pollen + black paint + Allergic Small People = no good.

Give them a lot of paper to shred for the worm beds. Show Small People how to make strips. Walk away to check facebook fold laundry . Come back in 20 10 minutes to exactly one sheet of newspaper ripped in half.

Heave a large sigh, and begin to deliver a lecture about the importance of caring for pets. Realize pretty quickly how stupid you sound (and that they aren’t listening) and start ripping paper with them.

Instruct Small People to wet the bedding until it’s damp, like a sponge. Remember too late that damp to Small People is synonymous with dripping wet to everyone else.

Tell Small People that if they can get ready for bed without crying, screaming or yelling (mine, not theirs) that we can add the worms into the hottest new city view worm bin in the South.

Watch a squiggling wet mass of–thankfully–alive worms. Explain to the worms how they were on their way to being bait, but instead now get to live in a giant plastic bucket of newspaper and veggie scraps.

Currently, the bin lives outside as I work on the correct green/brown ratio. I have already explained to my husband that he couldn’t just put a whole apple in there– worms have small mouths, after all.

I assume the worms like it better outside, since they have stopped trying to escape. One, which I’ve named Bent Tail, seems to the be the leader of the worm revolt. Me? I’m looking at a long driveway, lots of birds, and several exuberant boys thinking, “stupid worm, you’ll never have it as good out there as you do right here.”