Category Archives: Kid Stuff

Pool Season Begins with My Polar Bear in His Underwear

Sunday evening, after all of the Easter festivities had wound down and Sara and David were getting ready for bed, my husband decided to do a bit of quick swimming pool maintenance. Nathan was still playing outside (no school for him the next day) and of course, when he saw his dad inside the pool fence (the most highly coveted back yard destination), he was more than eager to “help” daddy with the pool. “Helping” daddy quickly led to Nathan stripping down to his underwear and leaping unabashed into the water.

Cold water.

Rather than fish him out and warm him up, we decided to let him have a go, be a kid.

To him, it was a 110 degree summer day. Lip quivering in pure joy.

This child is a polar bear.

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He had so much fun and seemed to avoid any sort of hypothermia so last night, we officially declared the start of pool season! Well, at least for the crazy little people who are willing to brave the 73 degree water. I, however, am not crazy and will swim at 90 degrees thank you.

The crazy little people I live with …

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Sara, how’s the water?

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COLD!

She made it about 10 minutes and was the first one out. Smart.

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David made it a few more minutes but was soon done and snuggled up in a towel. Warm.

And then, there is Nathan. Wild.

I have a significant amount of grey hair. I would like to share with you why that is …

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A fearless and impulsive boy who LOVES the water but is built like an anvil; 70 pounds of thick, solid iron that should sink and yet, swims like a fish.  My husband said it best when he compared watching Nathan swim to watching a helicopter fly; “It defies all logic and yet, there it is, flying” – or swimming as it were. I guess it doesn’t hurt that he is also strong as an ox!

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“What!? I not cold!”

He would have swam and leapt and dove and splashed and cannon-balled all night if we’d let him. But pool season has only just begun. There will be plenty of days ahead for all of that!

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Easter, Friendship and Orange Sour Cream Cake!

So sorry I didn’t have a chance to wish everyone a Happy Easter yesterday but as you were hopefully enjoying a wonderful day with family and friends and not reading blogs, I’m thinking that even a day late it is still okay to say Happy Easter!

So, HaPpY EaSteR!

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We had a wonderful day, celebrating the Savior and enjoying friends old and new. A beautiful Spring day. Hunting eggs. Laughing. Breaking bread. Sharing life.

We do not have a lot of family close by but we are incredibly blessed to have friends who have become family.

Old friends. Friends who’s children have grow with ours. Friends we have cried with through the tough stuff (and there has been some tough stuff) and rejoiced with at the victories, the healing and the hope. Because there has been a lot of that too. They are moving to Texas this summer and I am reminded that life is filled with change. But they are family, that will never change, and distance doesn’t matter.

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Old friends we once lived next door to, shared a fence with. They are family too. I miss seeing them everyday; knowing they are right there, just over the fence. I promise, I do love them, I just didn’t get a picture of them yesterday. I’m still working on my “capturing the moment skills”.

New friends.  Isn’t it the best when your kid’s best friend has awesome parents?!  Not only are they good people but brave people, undeterred by the giant snake at the end of our driveway. At least it wasn’t poisonous.

Oh, how I wish I were kidding.

Easter-12One tiny tangent because I must forget about the snake and tell you what is in Eileen’s glass. Trust me, you want to know! It is simple but, wow; half lemonade, half Prosecco and a whole lotta delicious! Cold, bubbly, refreshing. Sooooo delicious! I see a few more of those in her an my future this summer.

One more guest and friend to tell you about. The Colonel. My husband’s former commander whom we love to visit with. His last name is Patton – if only he hadn’t retired and had become a general. I’d love to be able to say General Patton’s coming for dinner. Well, except that he’s Air Force. And nice.

So much and so many to be thankful for.

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We missed the family and friends we couldn’t be with and hope for many Easters to come where we can all be together.

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Oh, right, cake. I promised you cake. I’ll tell you about the cupcakes above some other time. The cake I promised is my Grandma Elizabeth’s Orange Sour Cream Cake. It was a big hit yesterday. I had to hide away one last little piece so that I could photograph it this morning.

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My plan was to photograph that last little morsel of cake with orange wedges but unaware of said plan, my husband ate my garnish. I plated one little slice of orange and stepped away for just  a moment; but around here, that’s all it takes. So instead, plan B, I threw in a few of the kid’s colored Easter eggs and I think it turned out pretty good. I’m not sure which is more fun, making the food or photographing it.

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Orange Sour Cream Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar, extra fine *see note
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside to be used later. Beat the whites until you just have stiff peaks. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly (3-5 minutes). *Note: the recipe calls for super fine (also known as caster sugar). If you don’t have any, you can make your own by pulsing granular sugar in the food processor a few times.

Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, making sure to thoroughly incorporate each. To the creamed mixture, stir in the orange zest and chopped walnuts (I leave the nuts out).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture, alternately with the sour cream; starting and ending with the flour. Beat well and then gently fold in the egg whites.

Pour the batter into a  well buttered and floured bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack that has been placed on top of a sheet tray.

Orange Simple Syrup:

Bring to a boil 2/3 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar. Boil for 2-3 minutes. It will not reduce much and is not supposed to as it is a syrup to flavor and moisten the cake and not a glaze. Slowly spoon the syrup over the cake to let as much as possible absorb in.

Let it sit for at least 30 minutes and then gently move to the serving dish. Garnish with orange slices and a dusting of powdered sugar if you like.

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This would be a great brunch cake. Enjoy!

And finally, just a few more Easter Highlights from the Brew Crew …

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We always color eggs the night before Easter. My family did it that way growing up and I now have some of the best memories of the crazy eggs my dad would color and the fun we had together.

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I want my kids to have that too.

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Every year, I have taken a picture of my kid’s egg dye stained fingers. I love their hands.

 Every year, the hands are bigger and not quite as stained.

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They are getting so big. Older and more careful.

Pretty soon there will be no more messy little hands to photograph.

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This year, only Nathans.

Actually, I’m pretty sure this boy will be makin’ a mess for a long while to come.

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But wild messes or not, his still sleepy Easter morning face is what mommy will remember. Snuggles with his new friends left by the “Easter Bunny” and the calm before the “wild”…

Easter egg hunting. Big yard. Lots of eggs. TONS of fun!

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And thankfully, Easter egg hunting still seems to be cool; or at least not totally lame.

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A well deserved break. After all, those eggs don’t hide themselves.

I don’t know if you noticed it or not, but there is a silver bowl that sits as the centerpiece on my dining room table (in the very first picture of this post). It was a precious gift from my aunt; something she knew I really wanted but would never buy for myself. It is precious not because it is silver but because of what is engraved around it …

“Together with friends and family is always the happiest place to be.”

A St. Patrick’s Day Menu of Irish Pub Food

Top o’ the mornin’ to you!

I hope you had a fun, safe and festive St. Patrick’s Day filled with good times and great Irish food. I am always up for a little festive fun and of course a dinner guest or two, so for us St. Patrick’s Day is all about the food.

Normally, I make shepherd’s pie for dinner. Technically, an English dish, but my husband (who is of Irish descent) doesn’t like the traditional corned beef and cabbage. Weird, I know, but he doesn’t. He does like Guiness though, so he gets to keep his “Irish Card”.

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My three “Irishmen”.

This year, however, I decided to put to use the “Irish Pub Cooking” cook book that I picked up a while back. The plan, every dish on the menu would come from this book. Appetizer, entrée, bread, sides and dessert. Fun!

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So many of the recipes looked and sounded tasty but ultimately I decided on Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets for the appetizer, Beef in Stout with Herb Dumplings for the entrée, Colcannon and Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage for the sides, a bread called Barm Brack and Apple Cake for dessert.

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The pictures. Perfectly styled food pictures. They are why I have about a thousand cookbooks. They get me every time!

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And inspire me to play with my food.

So, how did the Irish Pub Cooking project turn out?

Delicious. Mostly.

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The Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets were incredible. My favorite recipe of the day.

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The Beef in Stout and Colcannon were great but the star of the dinner plate for me was the Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage (my second favorite dish of the day). It was absolutely wonderful and will be a side dish I make again, and again and again.

Well, the kids didn’t like it.

But I’m still going to make it again, and again and again.

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The apple cake was good. Not change your life epic but not disappointing. And it looks pretty.

The Barm Brack

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This is different from Irish Soda Bread. It is a yeast bread. Yeast bread is my kryptonite. In fact, this bread was like trying to eat kryptonite. The flavor was good. The texture? Kryptonite.

Moving on. Did I mention we had company?

My Uncle George and Aunt Marilyn are “snow birds” and live only a few miles from us during the winter months when it is just too darn cold in the Pacific Northwest. It had been a long time since we’d seen them, too long – which is so silly since they are so close by. We were happy to welcome them to dinner. I am kicking myself now though for not taking their picture, I’ll have to get one next time.

Uncle George brough his specialty, “Pistachio Jello Salad“. It was a much bigger hit with the kids than the cabbage.

In fact, Nathan was only too happy to start his day with a little left over jello salad for breakfast (I promise, he had an egg and an apple too).

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Yes, courtesy of daddy, my boy has a mohawk. A crazy, crooked mohawk. Mommy agreed for spring break only. But now, he loves it. He loves it so much that he didn’t want me to wash his hair because he thought the mohawk wouldn’t stick up anymore. I am actually not sure he is going to let me shave it off  before he has to go to school tomorrow. So, he maybe going to school with a crazy crooked – freshly washed – mohawk. I have learned to pick my battles.

I will share all of these Irish Pub recipes (even the Barm Brack) with you all week so be sure to come back tomorrow for the Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets recipe. For now, I’ll leave you with a big cheesy smile and an old Irish Blessing …

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May the blessing of God’s soft rain be on you,
Falling gently on your head, refreshing your soul
With the sweetness of little flowers newly blooming.
May the strength of the winds of Heaven bless you,
Carrying the rain to wash your spirit clean
Sparkling after in the sunlight.
May the blessing of God’s earth be on you,
And as you walk the roads,
May you always have a kind word
for those you meet.

Blazing a Trail Along the Salt River

A few weekends ago, my husband, oldest son and his Cub Scout Wolf Den were part of a “clean-up” along the banks of the Salt River. My husband told me about the gorgeous spot they found and suggested I take my family hiking there while they were visiting. He was working and couldn’t join us but the suggestion turned out to be a great one.

The Salt River is one of the most popular outdoor recreation destinations in our area and is well-known for tubing – not “tubing” at 40 mph behind a boat, think “lazy river float” with your bum in an inner tube that is tied to the inner tube of one or more people you want to spend several hours floating down a river with. Choose carefully. The Salt River is also a great place for camping, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and of course, hiking.

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We started our hike welcomed by Red Mountain, a well-known and well-loved landmark around here. This isn’t the most famous profile of the mountain but it is still beautiful.

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Of course my overly imaginative Cub Scout had to begin our hike by marking our trail. Side note: he also has ADHD so while the trail marking started out impressive, let’s just say it’s a good thing our ultimate survival did not depend on a consistently marked trail.

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Brothers ready for adventure. I don’t know if I’ve told you, Nathan’s favorite color is green and in his book, three different shades of this much beloved color makes the perfect outfit.

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And they’re off; my 100 mph in every direction at once child in the lead as always!

Our first discovery, the coolest picnic tables ever …

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Okay not overly scenic, but I LOVE these old Forest Service concrete picnic tables. Complete nostalgia.

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These tables have been around for a long time; just think of all of the people, the friends and families, who have come over the years to enjoy this incredible place.

I sure wish I could have one, I have the perfect spot for it. Someone really should make replicas (hmmmm, maybe someone does). I’d like to have the real thing (nostalgia), but I’d take a replica, delivered and placed of course – can you even imagine how heavy those must be? My husband complains when I ask him to move landscape boulders (what? he’s big and tough). Can you even imagine what he’d say to “I’m not sure honey, I think the massive concrete table needs to be just a little more to the left”?

Sorry, tangent – back to the adventure.

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Funny, no one was willing to take a peek and see who might be at home.

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A man, alone with his thoughts. Lots and lots and lots of thoughts. Sweet boy.

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When you are a boy under the age of ten, even a little bit of water pooled in the pit of a rock after a recent rain is interesting. I love that. I love nostalgic picnic tables too.

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A budding photographer and her little brother taking in one gorgeous view.

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The Salt River

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and still snow-capped mountains in the distance. Gorgeous.

I can’t imagine who would want to be inside on a day like this!

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The home of a Cactus Wren nestled in the protective spines of a Staghorn Cholla. Those tufts of purple and gold will soon be the most incredible blossoms.

I promise, my camera is ready and waiting! As are my hiking buddies.

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I don’t know, Nathan may have been onto something with that outfit – he sure “goes with” the budding spring landscape. I’m not sure what will be more interesting (or colorful) the blooming cacti or the outfit Nathan pulls together. We shall see.

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Making our way down after blazing our own trail. Even the bravest adventurer sometimes needs a hand from his big sister. After all, he can’t let his great-aunt, grandma or aunt beat him down.

One last stop …

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 at Saguaro Lake to feed the ducks.

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And one fat squirrel.

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Saguaro Lake is one of my favorite places. It is so incredibly beautiful and deserves a post of its own. I’ll get to work on that. I’m sure our sweet neighbors will take us out on their boat so I can get some great photos to share. I’ll bake something for them.

Oh, and if anyone knows how I can get my hands on one of those picnic tables (legally) – I’ll bake something for you too!

Now get out there and blaze a trail!

David’s Delicious Breakfast Sandwich

I am late in posting today because I have been “tinkering” around on Facebook and have FINALLY added a “Welcome Company” fan page. It still needs some fine-tuning and tweaking but it is up and I am excited about it. I would be so happy if you would join me there by clicking the “like” thumb on the sidebar – right over there, to the right. Yup, that’s the one!

I am so thankful for the new friends I have made through this blog and look forward to having more conversation and interaction with you on Facebook. Thank you for reading and encouraging me – you are all such a blessing.

So, as I am running behind and because my sweet son asked me to feature his favorite breakfast on a post sometime, I have decided share with you this quick and easy breakfast sandwich. David will be so excited to come home from school today and see his sandwich immortalized on the internet.

I make this sandwich just about every morning as David must have it at least 4 out of 5 school mornings. He loves it and I love sending him out the door full of protein and sugar-free; so it is a win-win for both of us.

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I know it looks simple, and it is, but the magic is in the egg …

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Gorgeous, right? This is how my dad always made “fried” eggs. My mom is a phenomenal cook but my dad, he was the egg man. A little bit of butter in the heated pan, crack the egg in once the butter has melted and then add about a teaspoon of water, cover and seal tightly with a lid and just a few minutes later, on medium heat, you have the perfect egg. Soft and silky and scrumptious.

The next trick is the cheese, sliced perfectly thin for just the right melt.

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This magical little tool is how you get the perfect slice of cheese. No more giant hunks lopped off with a boning knife. Perfect little gossamer strips of cheese. Fewer calories and all of the flavor, just something else to love.

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I found this cheese slicer in Norway about 20 (gulp) years ago. Wow! 20 years; I’ll have to scan those pictures and write a Norway post or two one of these days. It is one of my favorite places on earth. You can get these slicers all over now but it might be fun to go to Norway to get one.

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Now, here is where the sandwich is very specialized for David. Whole grain bagel, un-toasted, butter on both sides, cheese slices on the bottom.

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Top the cheese with the egg.

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Break the yolk and smear it around a little to spread out that rich yumminess and to avoid sudden splurts of bursting yolk with the first bite. Mom doesn’t need any additional shirts to wash or egg yolk to clean off of the dog, who is sure to be close by begging her boy for a bite.

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And there it is, David’s Delicious Breakfast Sandwich (no, that is not how I normally serve it to him, that is just a pretty breakfast sandwich posing for the camera).

Breakfast-Sandwich-11A thumbs up from a happy kid. What other reason could I possibly need to make the same egg sandwich morning after morning?

Now, if this were my favorite egg sandwich, it would be on a toasted and buttered English muffin and would have just a little bit of Dijon mustard. My husband would have to add meat (ham or bacon) and jalapeno peppers.

Give it a try and let us know what you think and what favorite things you add to make it …

“(your name here)‘s Favorite Breakfast Sandwich”.

Thanks for visiting today – I’ll see you on Facebook!

Pinewood Derby Part III, Race Day!

PWD3-6This day has been months in coming. RACE DAY! Weeks and weeks of planning, countless hours of preparation and toil and finally, RACE DAY is here! Okay, truthfully about 3 days of planning and preparation and just a little bit of toil – just keepin’ it real – but none the less, it is RACE DAY!

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The Wolf Den is ready.

And yes, they are about the cutest, sweetest bunch of Cub Scouts on the planet.

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The track is set.

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The cars are placed and ready to race.

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The spectators (daddy, Nathan and grandma – Sara is helping with concessions and socializing as  big sisters do) are anxious as they wait to see just what the Great Devourer is truly made of!

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The tension is palatable.

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And one little brother, having moved to a better vantage point, is holding his breath hoping that his big brother (whom he normally wants to beat at EVERYTHING) wins, just this once – or at least until he’s racing too in a couple of years.

So, how did it all turn out?

Well, the Great Devourer seemed to have a mind of its own and jumped the track and then lost a wheel. The pit crew (daddy) raced in and repaired the wheel for a 3rd place finish in the next heat; to which Nathan shouts “OH NO, David LOSE!”

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But still gave his brother the thumbs up after mommy reminded him that it is okay not to be first.

And in fact, despite not being first, David did win.

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He won the “Flat Tire Award” (a bag of chocolate covered donuts) for jumping the track and losing a wheel in spectacular fashion!

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And by judges vote, he won for “Most Original Design”.

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I just have to say how proud I am of my sweet boy; not just because he worked hard on his car or won an award but because he was a true sportsman, cheering his friends on and showing genuine excitement for their success. I am proud of the maturity and grace I saw in him amid the disappointment of his car not performing as well as he would have like. I am proud of the young man he is becoming and how he reminded us that you don’t have to win to be a winner!

Pinewood Derby Part II

A little bit of planning, sawing, sanding, filing and painting and just like that … a rectangular block of wood has become a snake. Actually, a race car in the shape of a snake.

PWD2-3But not just any snake, this snake is the “Great Devourer” inspired by a LEGO character. And not just any Lego Character, a Lego NINJAGO character.

PWD2-10To my eight year old, the sun rises and sets Legos, particularly Lego Ninjago. So we weren’t even a little bit surprised when he informed us this year’s Pinewood Derby Car would be the “Great Devourer”. “We can do that? Right dad?” And so the creative process and collaboration between father and son began and a block of wood became something more.

After the carving, sanding and fine-tuning came the paint job and then weight placement. Pinewood Derby cars can be no more than 5 ounces in weight but you want to be right at 5 ounces to ensure it is as fast as it can possibly be – my kitchen scale came in very handy.

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The wheels are the next step and take a bit of work to make them fast. A little bit of science, a few tricks learned from the internet and other dads, a sprinkle of pixie dust (or in this case, graphite powder) a lot of pre-race spinning and the wheels are ready.

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The Great Devourer is finished and I have a very proud and excited boy in the house – his son is pretty happy too!

PWD2-4All ready to pack up and head over to the weigh-in.

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PWD2-7David and his buddy Ryan anxiously await the Great Devourer’s official weight.

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Exactly 5 ounces!

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Car #6, impounded and ready to race!