Finding summer camps for the kids

Last year, I signed Jase up for a summer camp. It would have been a half day, week-long camp full of science experiments. I say, “would have been” because the camp was canceled two weeks before it was set to go. They did not reach the minimum number of participants.

This summer we signed him up for Lego Star Wars camp. Again, the same thing happened. The Thursday before camp they called to say it was being canceled. They offered other camps as an option, but he wanted a Lego camp.

Luckily, I knew that the Bricks 4 Kidz company was also putting on the same camp at their own location in July. (The first one was scheduled through a church’s summer program.) The only problem was that this camp was the same time as Lexie’s camp.

Now I hadn’t planned to sign Lexie up for a camp at all this summer but when I was going through the church’s brochure on camps, I found the perfect camp for her. Frozen summer fun! Yes, it was a camp filled with activities based off the movie Frozen.  Music, games, crafts and even a snowball fight are planned. She will love it!

I can’t say how the kids are doing in their summer camps as they just started today. But I am excited that they are going to them. Lexie was a little nervous about signing up for camp as she declared she didn’t want to be away from me. However, she has attended both preschool and kindergarten with no problems, so she should be fine.

Last year, I did sign both kids up for some half-day camps offered by the Little Gym where at the time Lexie was taking a combo dance/gymnastics class. Though the camps were designed for kids up to age 8, Jase was often the oldest kid there. He still had a great time, and it was awesome that the kids could do these camps together, but I knew it would only work that one summer.

So today, my husband dropped Lexie off on his way to work. He will also be picking her up at noon. I get the job of taking Jase to his camp, which of course is in the opposite direction. With camps at the same times and in different locations, I would never be able to do this without my husband’s help. Basically, the options were he take one kid to a camp or Jase again misses out on his camp this summer.

I am pretty sure we will look for some half-day camps next year for the kids. We might even consider a full-day camp for Jase if he wants to try one. I don’t know if they – or I – am at all ready for them to stay overnight at a camp. But I can see that coming in the future too.

Adding a Lego-twist to an army-themed birthday party

After Jase’s birthday party in 2013, I decided that we were done with throwing a party and inviting the whole class to some sort of party place. As Jase gets older, I want to scale back his parties. So we started talking about doing one at home or maybe something with just a few friends at another location.

When we first brought this up, Jase was really into army stuff, so we started talking about an army themed party. I did some research online, and we came up with an obstacle course and a shooting/target practice game.

(Disclaimer – we started thinking about this WAY early. As in months before the party which of course means the theme changed as his interests changed.)

Jase 9 invitationIn February, my son saw The Lego Movie and loved it. Suddenly, he wanted a Lego Movie invitation which of course meant the theme was shifting from army to Lego. But he didn’t want to change the activities so we just added Lego bricks and figures to our original activities.

Obstacle Course

CIMG2822This was quite easy to add a few Lego touches to. We started off with a balance beam (adding “Lego bricks” to hold it over the “lava”). After that was the climbing wall which of course resembled a Lego brick. The only other Lego touch was more “Lego bricks” as they leapt over the “lava” in another section. (We also had a tunnel, hurdles, a swing over a “river” and a rope area to jump through like tires.)

Shooting Practice

CIMG2854My husband built a shooting board which I printed out micromanagers from The Lego Movie. Using a laser, the kids would shoot at the micromanagers. Lights and a twirling devise would activate when they hit the target. (My husband had all sorts of plans to have this game outside and have it count the number of hits but because nothing is ever as easy as it seems, we had to go with this incarnation of the game. The kids were still impressed.)

Piñata

CIMG2825I decided to make my own Lego piñata. After reading a few blogs, I choose one of the easier methods that did not require Paper Mache. We used an empty Moutain Dew box that I covered with tissue paper. The bumps on the Lego were just plastic cups covered with tissue paper and then hot glued on. It looked very good but only lasted for about six kids before it broke.

Cake

They simply don’t sell a Lego cake anywhere here in San Antonio. (Ok, some bakery might make me one, but I want an inexpensive cake – and one I don’t have to bake/decorate myself.) So after finding nothing, we decided just to order a cake from the grocery store and have Jase decorate it with some of his Lego figures. He and Lexie had a good time doing that and everyone thought it was cute.

Water Balloon Fight

CIMG2876The big finale of the party was a water balloon fight. Every kid got 10 water balloons to start. (There were 12 kids total at the party). After they used their balloons, they could come and snag a few more in our “reserves” pile. I think we originally filled around 150 of them. The fight lasted longer than I thought it would as the boys held onto their balloons until they had a good shot. Then they broke out the water guns that I had bought in lieu of goodie bags and had a blast chasing each other around the yard.

All in all, I think it was a great party. Several of the boys claimed it was the best party ever. The birthday boy was happy, so I guess that is what matters most!

My Love/Hate relationship with Lego toys

Many children play with Lego bricks or the Mega Bloks version and Jase is no different. I am not totally a fan of these little plastic pieces. I find them hard to get apart, and they never stay together during normal play. And don’t even get me started on how much it hurts to step on one of these little pieces.

But Jase loves them and has A LOT of them. I think it is great that he sits down and builds them. It is good hand/eye coordination and  he has to be able to follow the directions. He willingly saves up his money to buy new sets and as anyone who knows those sets, they are not cheap. Most of his sets are Lego City or Star Wars, but lately he has been buying some Halo Mega Bloks too.

CIMG1354He likes Legos so much that when his first-grade class was given the assignment of creating a shoe box float, his of course had to have Legos on it. He went with Star Wars and created a battle scene. We used velcro to attach the large piece to our shoe box. And yes, I even glued a piece to a chopstick, so he can have a ship flying over the battle.  It won best Star Wars float.

Of course as any parent of a kid who collects Lego sets, the main concern is what to do with all of them. I know some kids build them and leave them built but here at our house they end up falling apart as they are played with or even worse stepped on. So while some of them are in some sort of built stage, we ended up with a drawer full of pieces, not to mention all the ones I find on the floor – preferably not with my bare feet.

Keeping them in a tub or drawer however left you with no way to find a piece when you need it. I researched many different ways to organize the pieces – from expensive Lego brand holders to simple bins. We decided to use two drawers under Jase’s bed to store them, but they needed to be organized within the drawers.

IMG_1145Jase and I went to Target and found these organizers by Stanley in the hardware section. At $10 a piece this seemed an economical means of storing them. We bought 2 of them and then sorted the pieces. They fit nicely in his drawer, and we still had room to store the built (or partially built) sets.

So now when I find a Lego brick when sweeping (or more likely stepping on with my bare feet), I can put it where it belongs.  Now if I could only find an easy way to pull the tiny bricks apart when he asks for help…