Friday, July 20, 2007

Start your engines

What a beautiful day. I got off from work early this afternoon, got the lawn mowed and started playing. The kids and I played a game of Bean Bag. This is the game where you throw bean bags at some wooden car ramps, trying to get them into the hole in the middle. With a little expert instruction, Number One Son started to hit the target pretty well. His little sister, Sweet Pea was pretty good about nailing the fire pit ten feet away with her bean bags.

Grampa Ray came for a visit and he brought his boxer, Rosie, with him. Rosie is quite a bit bigger than our poodle, Liberty, but they get along OK. Since Rosie is still a puppy, she has to be tied up or else she will run to the next state. So she is tethered to the kids' swing set and was happy to have them play around her. Their swing set has an elevated club house so Rosie could rest underneath in the shade.

Tonight after supper I asked the kids if they wanted to go for a bike ride. "Nooooo!", was the immediate response. I guess the babysitter walked them to the park this morning and they were still tired. So instead of a bike ride I got out something better.

N1S got a NASCAR electric race track for Christmas two years ago from his Grampa Gary. I'm ashamed to say that I've been too busy to set it up before now. You know how it is. After work there's dishes to wash, lawn to mow, deck to build, snack to eat, game to watch, etc. Anyway, it's OK to be a little late as long as you use it eventually. So long as the kids are still at an appreciative age to enjoy it. Since the weather was so nice I set it up outside on the deck. Almost immediately, the kids started enjoying the concept of assembly required.

"OK, kids! Who wants to untwist all of the twist ties?!"
"We do!", was the trusting reply.

The glamour of that job quickly faded. I heard, "Is it ready yet?" , just after I found the instructions. Luckily it was a simple set and I had it set up just as the kids were finishing the sticker application to their cars. Yellow car for Sweet Pea, and orange car for N1S of course.

You could feel the excitement as they anticipated the squealing of tires with the first squeeze of their controller trigger. I placed their cars correctly on the track and off they went. Spinning out on the first curve. This race track set is the same as the one I had as a kid. When you squeeze the controller all the way down, the cars lose control and leave the track. Next, the kids practiced how to get their cars around the track without having to pick up the car and replace it on the track every four inches. They would carefully squeeze their trigger ever so lightly. The car would move a few inches and stop. Then a few more inches and stop. Gradually the car would go half way around the track before stopping. The giggling really started when both cars got around the track without stopping or crashing. After a while the racing got boring and the crashing got more inventive. Each tried to see how far their car would fly after removing one of the guard rails from a curve. After that standard was set, they pretended to go to restaurants with their cars and order drive up.

The main thing is that they had fun. It was a simple toy that provided a lot of entertainment and imagination. It also allowed the kids to enjoy the nice weather with something new to do. The most enjoyable times we have as a family usually involve a simple game or activity. A deck of cards, a board game or paper and crayons are usually enough to produce many memories. The kids actually played pretty nice together and it didn't get competitive at all. Thanks Grampa Gary.

Now what can we do tomorrow?


DJ Kirkby said...

Today number 3 son put together a love parcel for his Grammie (a painting and some photos) and then we went on an expidition to the post office so he could practice some social skills. 'One for Canada please miss' etc. He did very well. I like the idea of throwing the bean bags, have you and Lady Di done vegtable seed planting with your two?

Dad Stuff said...

dj kirkby: We've only done a few beans in pots. Neither of us are very gardeny. I bet the kids would love it though. thanks for the idea.

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.