DIY · Early morning musings · fame and shame · Keepin' it real · Sartorial stuff · whine and cheese

Day 446: In which I surrender to the sun.

Look, I’m not giving up, I’m…

Okay, fine. I’m giving up.

I no longer believe that the curtains in our bedroom are going to be able to keep it dark enough in the face of direct sunlight in the mornings. Right now it’s dark enough only because most of the windows are blocked off with cardboard (it looks really classy from outside, I tell you.) That’s not a long-term solution, not for me at least. Mr. December would just as soon paint all the window glass black and call it a day.

At the beginning of this whole saga, I could have just bought a few blackout roller shades and added some curtain panels on top to take care of those pesky lines of light around the edges. But no, I had to have something that looked good because our house was so cool. Roller shades were just so… blah. Not attractive at all.

That’s why I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but here goes:

I just bought blackout roller shades to install in our bedroom, behind the curtains, to help block out more of the light.

Yep, exactly the kind of shades I didn’t want to install in the first place.

See why I say I’m giving up?


In other sun-related news, summer is unofficially here—and with it, the first sunburn of the season. I hope my body at least managed to finally make some of its own Vitamin D. If I needed to draw a self-portrait in crayon or marker, I’d be able to use the one marked “berry red sunburn” instead of my usual (boring) “peaches and cream-would-do-wonders-for-that-redness-on-your-pale-face-you-know.”

Don’t worry, though, it only has to happen once for me to just wear a sunshirt if I’m going outside for the rest of the summer. Just like with returning library books, I’m too absent-minded to be trusted to put sunscreen on consistently.

If anybody needs me, I’ll be swimming in Aloe Vera gel.

bikes planes and automobiles · DIY · fame and shame · family fun · Homeschool · Kids · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 444: How we Roll

“Honey, I’m trying to write this blog post, but my writing is just flat.

“Is that your opening joke?” Mr. December asked.

“What? No—oh. I see. No, it wasn’t. But maybe I spoke too soon? It shouldn’t be too hard to change gears.”

He mimed a rimshot.

“Okay, fine,” I murmured. “I’ve made a start. Might as well roll with it.”


A few weeks ago the chain on E’s bike started coming off the gears. Then R complained that the hardest gear on her bike was feeling an awful lot like the easiest. I can manage small bike repairs, but I had neither the skills nor the time to take on the task, nor the tune-ups that all of our bikes desperately needed.

I went online and looked up a mobile bike repair guy whom we’d met a couple of years ago at the Wychwood Barns market. The website had a simple online service request form; I filled it out and waited.

I soon had a message saying that Matteo (of Matteo’s Bike Repair) was booked up for the next few months, but Percy had space on his schedule for us. I had met Matteo in person but had no idea who this Percy guy was. Was he any good? When I contacted Matteo I felt like I was dealing with a known quantity; Percy was a mystery.

As it turned out, Percy was exactly who we needed. A former homeschooled kid himself, he took the time to explain to the kids not just how the different parts of a bike work, but the science behind it all. He was endlessly patient and good-humoured—even in the face of N’s standard two-dozen-or-so interruptions. And he immediately said “Yes!” when I offered popsicles. I do like an adult who appreciates popsicles.

By any standard, this was a successful class and a fabulous homeschool day. All four kids learned how to lubricate their bike chains, adjust the brakes, and pump up the tires. R got some hands-on experience in tightening her gearshift cable and removing and reinstalling the pedals. And we now know an awesome bike repair guy, just in case any of our Toronto friends ever need one.

fame and shame · Sartorial stuff

Day 388: Close Encounters with Customer Service

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to wean myself off Amazon and instead support local businesses and ethically made products instead. The thing is, Amazon has really perfected the logistics—the correct stuff arrives the next day, and returns take a few small clicks and a walk to the mailbox. In contrast, the local businesses have taken a bit more time to deliver, and returns have required a bit more effort. One place even sent me two of a completely different item than the one I’d ordered. All of this, and they’re more expensive than Amazon by far. But can you really put a price on treating your workers fairly? Well, yeah. And this is it.

On the upside, any interactions I’ve had with customer service at these businesses have been very positive. Here are three of my favourites.


Dear Encircled,
I love the dressy leggings I bought from you, but I’ve washed them once (cold water, gentle wash) and the stitching is coming undone on the inner thigh. I’ve attached a picture. Is this a quality control issue?
Thanks,
Decemberbaby

Dear Decemberbaby,
That is certainly a quality control issue! I’m so sorry this happened. I’m sending you a shipping label so you can return the leggings to us—we’ll take a look at them to see what went wrong in production. I can either send you a replacement pair or refund your money. Which do you prefer?
Encircled Customer Care

Dear Encircled,
I’d love a replacement pair. These leggings are the best leggings I’ve ever worn!
Thanks,
Decemberbaby


Hi KnixTeen,
I bought a pair of underwear from you, ordering the correct size according to your sizing/measurement chart. They’re super soft and comfy, but they keep slipping down. Is this an issue of size? Or is there a different cut or style that might stay up better?
Thanks,
Decemberbaby

Hi Decemberbaby,
Sounds like those are definitely too big for you. Since this is your first purchase from us, I’d like to send you a new pair in the next size down. We can’t take back the original pair due to health regulations, but we ask you to please wash them and then either donate them or pass them on to someone who can use them.
Thanks for your business,
Knixteen Customer Service


“Reflections, how can I help you?”

“Hi, I just received an order from you today. The invoice is correct, but the items in the box do not match the invoice.”

“Can I have your invoice number, please?”

I recited the number.

“I see you ordered a stuffed animal. What did you receive instead?”

“Two tote bags filled with miniature stuffed animals and hardcover books.”

“Okay, I know which ones you’re talking about… I’m going to go ahead right now and ship you what you originally ordered, but my boss isn’t here right now, so I don’t know whether he’s going to want to have you ship it back to us. We’ll be in touch about the return label.”


I know, I know. The first and last examples are simply corrections of mistakes made by the vendors in the first place, but they were so nice about it. As for the middle one… who says, “Yeah, you bought the wrong size, so we’re just going to send you a free pair of the right size.”? Well, these guys do.

blogging · DIY · fame and shame · Sartorial stuff · The COVID files

Day 354: Where the Pockets Are

Interesting bit of trivia about yesterday’s post: the “rule” that inspired me to write about my rules didn’t even make it into the post because I forgot all about it. I was reminded tonight as we cleared the dinner table. Rule: every piece of cutlery that comes off the table, used or not, goes in the dishwasher—you never know who has licked what. That’s not really a concern anymore, though.


For someone who doesn’t really like fashion, I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about clothing. I’m pleased to report that I took in my dress from eShakti, and it now looks “much better” according to Mr. December. I have two pairs of pants with proper pockets that I need to take in, and I’m waiting for one more dress before I decide what all I need to return to Scott-e-Vest. You’ve been waiting patiently, though, so I wanted to update you on what clothes I’ve found, from where, and how big the pockets are.

Women’s Everyday Go To Pants from Columbia.com

My first purchase was “Women’s Everyday Go To Pants” from Columbia. I ordered two sizes so I could try them on and send one back. The Large looked great on my legs but gave me terrible muffin top. The XL fit my waist and hips perfectly but looked like parachute pants on my legs. But they have nice deep pockets including a zippered one large enough for my phone, so I’m going to keep the XL and take in the legs.

Margeaux Cargeaux Everyday pants from Scott-e-Vest

A friend tipped me off to Scott E Vest. They make clothes with so many pockets you could probably pack for a long weekend in the vests alone. As you browse the items, they tell you how many pockets there are in each design; I think they top out around 47 pockets. Anyhow, I ordered a fleece vest, a pair of nice-looking pants (the “Margaux Cargeaux”), and a shirt. The vest fits well, but I might exchange it for a different colour; the pants have the same problem as the XL Columbia pants—the legs are too wide; the shirt was a nice idea, but it’s white and the fabric is kind of transparent (I’d only wear it over a camisole.) The shirt was final sale, so I’ll have to keep it; the pants are keepers and I’ll just have to take in the legs; and after the dress I ordered from Scott e Vest arrives and I know whether I’m keeping it, I might exchange the black fleece vest for a nice bright red one.

My cousin told me a while ago about the leggings she wears all the time. They have pockets, you see. But they’re only sold on Amazon, and after talking to the owner of a store that has been negatively impacted by what can probably be called Amazon’s predatory practices, I’m even more firmly resolved not to buy from Amazon anymore unless there’s truly no other option. So I went hunting for leggings and stumbled on Encircled and their Dressy Legging. I’m wearing them right now and all I can say is… my leggings have pockets! Pockets that hold my phone! Huzzah! Encircled products are made entirely in Canada: they actually make the knit fabric and then manufacture the clothes in Toronto. As such they’re not cheap, but at least I know that whoever made my leggings was paid a living wage to do it.

So far that’s it for my pocket-hunting shopping spree. You already know about eShakti and the dress I had made to measure. If I had to choose one company to use again it would likely be eShakti, if only for the fact that apparently I’m proportioned oddly for normal pants, so made-to-measure makes the most sense for me.


On another subject, we’re less than two weeks away from Day 365, A.K.A. the anniversary of the day the world turned upside down. I’m wondering whether it’s weird to mark the occasion. If you had to have a “one year of lockdowns” party, what would it involve? Sweatpants and wine? Binge-watching an entire Netflix series? Or maybe just reposting blog posts from Day One to see how far we’ve come?

fame and shame · Jewy goodness · Keepin' it real · whine and cheese

Day 339: No good deed goes unpunished?

Remember my rant about not wanting to use Amazon but being fed up with the subpar online shopping experience with Canadian companies? And remember how I called out Canadian Tire specifically?

(I hope you remember. It was just last week.)

It just got worse: apparently Canadian Tire now owns Party City. The once-functional Party City website has migrated to the same system used by all Canadian Tire companies.

I was trying to find somewhere to buy packaging for our mishloach manot and I hit on Party City, which is nearby and offers curbside pickup. I even knew exactly what I wanted and put it into my cart quickly and went to check out. The page started loading… and kept loading… loading… loading…

I barbecued our dinner, ate with everyone, cleaned up, and came back to the computer. Still loading…

Maybe I should hit refresh, I thought. Maybe it timed out and if I reload the whole thing it’ll work?

Nope. Dream on.

I even tried using an incognito browser window, just in case there was some problem with cookies or some other kind of cached information (almost sounds like I know what that means, doesn’t it?). I got this:

Image description: screenshot of the Party City website. There’s a pop-up window that reads, “Sorry, there is a problem. We are currently experiencing system difficulties and cannot process your request at this time. We are working hard to resolve the issue. Please try again later.”

If this was the first such issue I’d had with this platform, I’d shrug and try again tomorrow. But I’ve had this kind of problem many times with Canadian Tire. Do they not know that their system is terrible? Or do they just not care? Plenty of other companies seem to have reasonable e-commerce systems, so what’s the problem here?

Amazon’s terrible ethics and business practices are worse, in the long run, than a frustrating online shopping experience, so I’ll probably keep trying to buy this stuff from Party City even though I’ve already wasted at least half an hour on what should have been a five-minute transaction at most. It sure feels like no good deed goes unpunished, doesn’t it?

fame and shame · Homeschool

Day 219: Time-saving Tech

I’m not sure if I should be happy or unhappy about my new printer. On the one hand, it saves me so much time and frustration! On the other hand, I get less exercise than I did with my old printer. I think I’m still inclined to view Freddie as a positive addition to our household, though.

Oh, excuse me. I forgot all about introductions. Everyone, meet Freddie, my new printer. Last name is Mercury, because he’s so fast (like quicksilver, get it?)

Aaaand he’s sticking his tongue out at you. Try not to take it personally.

As I was about to tell you, using my old printer to print a double-sided document was a rather involved process prone to user error (read: wasted ink and paper.) I had to do the following:

  1. Click “print” and select “odd pages only.”
  2. Run downstairs to the printer to gather the one-sided pages, put them into a neat pile, and load them into the paper tray (and woe betide you if you load them the wrong way around.)
  3. Go upstairs and click “print even pages only.”
  4. Go back downstairs and watch for any errors.
  5. See that the printer seems to have grabbed two pages at once. Now the double-sidedness is all messed up.
  6. Frantically tap the “cancel” button on the printer in a bid to save as many error-free pages as possible.
  7. Start again from step 1.
  8. Cry or scream. Your choice.

Here’s the same task when using Freddie:

  1. Click “print” and select “double sided.”
  2. Go downstairs to collect my perfectly printed document, already in the correct order and ready to be hole-punched and put into the binder.

See how much better that is?

Also exciting is that Freddie has two paper trays, which means that I no longer have to take out regular paper to put in cardstock when I’m printing Montessori materials for E. That used to necessitate a run downstairs to the printer before hitting “print”—a workout I no longer have to do. The really big win here is that I won’t end up forgetting to switch back to regular paper before printing a multi-page document that winds up being printed on cardstock, too thick to staple together. As long as I select “alternate tray” before clicking “print,” my materials come out on cardstock. Anybody printing even a moment after me will still have their document printed on regular paper.

Look at me, all productive and stuff! It’s all because of those earbuds.

Freddie is not the only tech that has improved my productivity, though. My new earbuds have memory foam earpieces, kind of like those foam earplugs you can buy in bulk. With my earbuds in and some instrumental music playing through them, I can ignore everyone around me and actually focus on my work. This morning I listened to classical music for an hour while I submitted health insurance claims, paid bills, and made lists for tomorrow’s PD day. That would not have happened if my brain had needed to filter out all the ambient sounds my family makes.

What am I doing with the new-found leisure time my tech has afforded me? Why, curling up with another device, of course. I finally bit the bullet and bought another Kobo so that I can read on it, too. Now I just need one of those bath caddy trays and I’ll be able to lounge in the tub with my waterproof e-book, sip some tea, and, for one blissful hour, ignore my children.

DIY · fame and shame · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 154: We Broke the Bed.

This morning when I woke up, I rolled towards Mr. December. That’s not odd in and of itself, but I hadn’t intended to roll that way — there was a huge depression in our mattress. When we finally made it out of the mattress (gravity is not your friend when you’re in a valley, it seems) we took it off the bed and saw this:

Looks like we broke the bed.

(Cue raunchy jokes here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

It absolutely should not have broken. We bought it new less than two years ago and have only ever used it for its intended purposes. On closer examination, however, I noticed that IKEA saved money by using finger-jointed pine slats instead of solid wood. Sure enough, the boards were broken neatly right at the finger joints. Not smart, IKEA. Not smart.

I tried to leave a review on their website to alert IKEA to this problem, but one technical glitch after another meant that their website categorically refused to accept my review. I wonder if that’s a bug, or a feature?

Anyhow, we clearly had to fix it today… which was fun, actually, because fixing it meant buying new boards, which meant going to Lowe’s, which is my happy place. And I biked, which is my favourite form of transportation. I hopped on the bakfiets with E, who wanted to come along for the ride, and we headed out along the trail (there’s a trail that starts a few blocks away and goes straight to Lowe’s without crossing any major streets.)

I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the lumber and E sharing space in the bike. But I did snap this quick and blurry photo of her riding on the cart at Lowe’s, after we had the boards cut. She was very helpful, actually — if she wants an apprenticeship, she’s hired.

Back at home, it was a pretty quick fix. I removed the old slats (keeping two of them, one for each end) and laid the new, wide, solid wood ones on the rails. To keep them in place and distribute the force more evenly I created floating joists by screwing the boards to a 2×2 that ran up the length of the bed. I left the ends of the floating joist a bit long, so that they slipped under the bed frame, and added an extra floating joist around the middle of the bed (a.k.a. the “bouncy zone”) for extra strength.

Here are a few closeups of the newly repaired mattress support:

I think this repair is solid enough to withstand any and all “intended uses.” And now that my bed is ready for me, I’m going to get reacquainted with it. Good night!

fame and shame · mental health · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 114: Breaking up with Rexall

There are four members of this family on daily prescription medications. The majority of those prescriptions are for ADHD meds, a fact which has led me to believe that we should just put it in the water and be done with it. We could just attach a filter to our tap that adds Ritalin to the water until 4 p.m.; I’d call it “Britalin.”

(I got distracted again, didn’t I?)

As I was saying, we have a lot of prescriptions in this family, and of course none of them are synchronized; this means that we’re requesting refills and picking up at our local Rexall pretty much weekly. It was an agony: they rarely picked up the phone (and in fact we often got a busy signal) and even though we could request refills online, there was no way to see whether the refill was ready before we headed over there.

“This makes no sense,” Mr. December groused. “This whole industry is backward. Why does it take so long to fill a prescription? Why isn’t more of this online and automated?”

After a particularly irritating experience trying to call Rexall this weekend, I decided to try an online pharmacy that delivers. A bit of Googling yielded some results and I narrowed my choices down by turnaround time for new prescriptions (I’d like to have all our pescriptions at the same pharmacy, so I needed a place that could deliver, for example, antibiotics for an ear infection the same day.)

I’ve settled on the Well.ca pharmacy. I did the online signup on Monday; Today I was notified that all our records have been transferred. Logging into the app, I was delighted to see that not only can I submit new prescriptions by uploading a picture of them, but I can also see each of my prescriptions, the date prescribed, number of refills, date dispensed, and the doctor who prescribed it. That’s right, folks — for the first time in my life, I have access to my own pharmacy record! It’s time to party like it’s 2015, which is roughly when every other industry seems to have introduced this level of customer access online.

(Side note: the Well.ca pharmacist called me on Monday afternoon to ask me if I had another phone number for the Rexall pharmacy, because the number I gave him seemed to be out of order. “I’ve called five times and it’s a constant busy signal,” he explained apologetically. “It must be out of order.” “No,” I sighed, “That’s par for the course with them. That’s why we’re switching.”)

This morning I noticed that N’s prescription was missing from his online profile. Curious, I called the Well.ca pharmacy; I almost dropped my coffee cup when they picked up on the first ring. Not only did I get to speak to the pharmacist within a minute, but after sorting out the issue for N, he suggested to me that he could synchronize my prescriptions so that they all get renewed at the same time. It sounds so simple; why did my old pharmacy never suggest it?

Mr. December’s take is that the folks at Rexall probably thought they were working really hard to serve their clients; they might even have felt a bit heroic, working nonstop with the phone ringing off the hook all the time. They weren’t, though — their system was hopelessly inefficient and out-of-date. It’s sort of like me without my ADHD meds: I feel like a martyr, running around and trying to do everything, when the fact is that if I had a better system I’d be twice as productive in half the time.

Hmm… sounds like the Rexall pharmacy could really use my new water filtration system, doesn’t it?

birthing babies · crafty · education · fame and shame · Kids · mental health · parenting · whine and cheese

Day 92: Not My Sport

I’ve been listening to The Parenting Junkie Show (podcast) for over a year now. There have been a lot of good topics and episodes, but my favourite by far was Avital’s comparison of parents to olympic athletes.

Her point was that nobody expects an elite athlete to be good at every sport. Of course all athletes are physically fit, but nobody criticizes a sprinter for being bad at swimming, and no skier spends time frantically trying to get better at bobsledding. Every elite athlete focuses on one event.

Parents, on the other hand (myself included here), feel like to be good (or amazing) parents we have to be good at all the things parents are supposed to do. It doesn’t feel like enough to be amazing at planning travel and outings with the kids; We also need to be able to plan birthday parties, do crafts, help with algebra homework, instil discipline, enforce bedtimes, discover and nurture the children’s talents, and foster social skills. Oh, and get a nutritious dinner on the table (and into their tummies.)

Anyhow, Avital pointed out that as parents, it’s okay to have a specialty. I tried to get my head around this philosophy (I don’t have to be good at everything? But I’m the parent! I do have to be good at everything because it all falls to me!) but as much as I’ve tried, I can’t help feeling like a failure when I bump up against one of my weak spots.

Last night I jokingly told Mr. December that I’m considering having a fifth child just so I can feel competent again for a couple of years. You see, I’m really good with babies and toddlers. I get them. I can handle the crying, the constant holding and rocking and shushing, the diapers, the feeding, the spontaneity and the need for flexibility. I understand what they need, and I love providing it. I don’t know if I’d call myself an elite athlete in the baby event, but I’m pretty darn close.

Then those babies grow up and go to school, and it’s not my sport anymore. I mean, I’m not a delinquent by any means, but the school years seem to require so much more organization and consistency, which are two of my weakest areas. I can create systems and organize supplies beautifully, but enforcing the systems consistently? Nope. Not a snowball’s chance in hell.

Do you know why my kids’ school agendas were never signed? Because I only remembered to ask for them once a week at best. Yes, they should be responsible enough to remember to get them signed in the first place, but my point is that I couldn’t consistently reinforce that at home. When my kids were at Montessori they used to bring home a portfolio of their work every Friday, to be returned empty on Monday. After a few months the teachers started giving my kids their homework in a paper envelope; they’d figured out that those plastic folders weren’t coming back. For reasons unfathomable to me, I just couldn’t return them.

All of this to say that these days I’m constantly feeling like I’m failing, or like I should do better or be better, and I suspect it’s probably as frustrating as a swimmer being told she has to pivot and become a distance runner. I could do it, but where all the other marathoners were running, I’d be walking (and then limping) to the finish. And yet these things need to be done, and by and large I’m the one who needs to do them. I have to teach these kids consistency and discipline even though my own is sorely lacking. It doesn’t help that Mr. December is nothing if not organized and disciplined. I look pretty darned incompetent in comparison.

But we’re not supposed to compare ourselves to other parents, right? We’re supposed to have our own events and focus on our strengths. And yet… it’s lovely that I can design a house, build furniture, sew quilts, navigate all sorts of medical issues with aplomb, comfort most crying infants in mere seconds, lead singalongs, plan a fabulous road trip, and read stories with all the funny voices; still, the truth is that right now (for the past three months if not more) none of those skills are in demand. So what’s a mom to do?

blogging · education · fame and shame · family fun · Kids · lists · parenting

Day 77: Ten things I learned today (In no particular order)

  1. Some of my kids really don’t know how to print. Today we started the new writing workbooks I ordered. I thought the kids would breeze through the first ten or so pages, because they were that simple. Instead I spent forty-five minutes saying things like, “Did you know that lowercase g is supposed to dip down below the line?” and “Lowercase J has a dot above it, not a line at the top.” I had to go and find them a page with examples of the printed lowercase alphabet so they could copy it. I’m not sure who should be more embarrassed about this — the schools, for not having cared to demand good handwriting, or me, for not detecting this gap in their education before.
  2. Yoga on a trampoline feels really good. It’s even better than having a nice, cushy mat. E and I went out to the trampoline for a stretch. The downward dog was especially good – the slight bounce really amplified the stretch.
  3. I don’t know how to talk to my kids about racism. At least, that’s what I’m understanding after having read more than twenty articles about how to be anti-racist as a white (or in my case, white-passing) person right now. I don’t know what to tell my daughter about how to be an ally to her biracial friend. All I know is that I don’t know. Is that enough?
  4. Concussion isn’t any easier the second time around. I’d have thought that knowing what was happening would make it more tolerable the second time around. That was certainly the case for me during childbirth. I’m not handling this concussion any better than I did the first. In fact, I find myself thinking, “Didn’t I do this already? Haven’t I already gleaned the life lessons that are to be had here?”
  5. Schools don’t teach place value all at once. We had a moment today when R was having significant difficulty with her math work. It seems she didn’t know how to read numbers like 632,000 because (she says) nobody ever explained to her that thousands have ones, tens, and hundreds columns, too. “We just learned ones, tens, hundreds, and that’s it,” R explained. Really, how hard is it to explain six or nine place value names instead of just the three?
  6. My kids take to screen time bans very calmly now. Last night I asked three kids to help me unload the dishwasher and set the table. Their answer? “Nah.” Then they went outside to play. I didn’t ask again, but they had no screen time (except for school stuff) all day today. I didn’t hear a single complaint about it. Moreover, they did a great job setting and clearing the table and starting the dishwasher.
  7. Homeschooling gives our family so much time. Sure, I’m moving around between all the kids for five hours a day, but that means that from 2:00 p.m. to bedtime, we can do whatever we feel like. It’s a far cry from only having my kids when they’re grumpy and tired, for the four hours between school dismissal and bedtime (and having those four hours be further reduced by homework.)
  8. Little kids can understand big games. Tonight after dinner, E asked me if we could play Azul, and most importantly, if she could play by herself (i.e. not on someone else’s team.) I wasn’t sure how it would go — I sort of doubted her ability to keep track of all the rules — but I was pleasantly surprised. E was able to learn and keep track of all the rules and game mechanics. She still lost by fifty points, but who cares? She was very proud of herself, and I was proud of her.
  9. N’s talent for following LEGO instructions carries over into other kits. He built a “claw monster” (robotic arm) this evening from a kit my uncle bought him. He was very proud of himself despite the fact that it didn’t quite do anything yet. Baby steps, right?
  10. I probably shouldn’t have committed to a “top ten” list before fully outlining my points. Sorry, but I ran out of steam around number eight. Lesson learned. G’night!