Early this year, Jonny challenged Gabe to build a drone. I can’t remember how it came about, but I think they were discussing something along the lines of boredom and screen time. I’m not sure that Jonny expected Gabe to take up the challenge, but he did! He did his own research and settled on building a racing drone. I started getting emails with links to parts that he needed me to order. I was a little shocked at how much this project cost! Gabe paid for it all himself and he must have been pretty motivated because his total cost was around $300 (I’m sharing this so you know what you are getting into just in case one of your kids would like to build one.)
Drones remind me of little ufos. They are a little bit creepy! Gabe built this one complete with a video camera. When it zips around the backyard it sounds like a giant mosquito. Last week something went wrong and it flew out of range, over the treetops and back towards our old house down the road. I was sick at the thought of all Gabe’s money and hard work wasted. I sat in the house and prayed while Gabe and some of the younger kids went searching for it. One of our neighbor’s kids had heard it and was able to give Gabe a general idea of where to look for it, and he found it! It wasn’t even broken. I think he’s done some sort of reprogramming and it is behaving itself now. I’m so proud of him for taking on this project. Jonny will have to think of something less expensive for his next challenge because Gabe is out of money now!
Screen time and how best to spend our evenings have been recurring topics of conversation with our older boys lately. Of course, my own habit of picking up my phone to scroll Instagram was quickly noted. Teenagers are good at calling out their parents. There is no room for hypocrisy. To show them that I was serious, I immediately picked up my phone and deleted the app. I check in from my computer every now and then and it feels much more intentional that way.
It occurred to Jonny and me that if we don’t want the boys watching shows every night or getting on computers, then we can’t do that either. So, we have been requesting that our boys play games with us a few nights a week. I doubt that playing games with their parents is necessarily their first choice, but two out of three of our teenaged sons actually like playing games. Teenagers are fun to talk to and it’s hilarious to listen to the boys tease each other. Our favorite game right now is Rummikub. I remember playing this with my family when I was a kid. Sometimes we play Scrabble. Sometimes all three boys are glad to play. Sometimes one of them is reluctant (It’s always the same one-ha!) We don’t insist every night, but we do insist. If I had teenager energy I do think we’d play a quick game every night because it’s such a good way to check in with everyone.
As an aside, I got excited and decided that we should learn to play Bridge. I remember that my grandparents played it with friends. I love the idea of a Bridge club (I’m thinking for Jonny and me, not our boys. I’m not that unrealistic.) I printed instructions online, but they are around 60 pages long and I feel intimidated now. Any tips on learning? Is it that complicated?
We are still doing puzzles. I had a friend and her kids over recently and while the kids played, we worked on a puzzle and talked. I am a very fun friend. My twenty-something self wouldn’t know what to think of my forty-something self, but here I am. I like forty-something life. Though I wish I had the energy I had twenty years ago, as we all do.
This puzzle (Hound of the Baskervilles) was completed by Silas and Job (ages 6 and 8 for reference). They really enjoy Charles Wysocki 300 piece puzzles. Even Mabel can help with them. We have had so much rainy, gray weather lately and puzzles have been a lifesaver. I like the way that putting the edges of a puzzle together is a little like casting on a knitting project. The boys can complete a 300 piece puzzle in a couple of hours. I will work on a 500 piece puzzle with them and those last a day or two. I think those are really satisfying. A 1000 piece puzzle is the most economical because it will last a few days, more if I don’t let myself work on it for too long at a time. We have quite a crowd here and I am finding that we go through puzzles much like we do groceries. Jonny came home from the thrift store the other day with a box of four Americana puzzles for a few dollars and everyone cheered. I watch Amazon for puzzles to get discounted and eBay can be a good source as well.
A few of you have asked what we do with our finished puzzles. As soon as a puzzle is finished, I take a photo and then we carefully take it apart and put it back in the box. For me, gluing a puzzle together would take the life out of it. We will put a puzzle together more than once, especially the one 300 and 500 piece puzzles that the kids enjoy most.
p.s. The weather here is crazy. Warm then cold and back again. Lots of rain. Flowers are already starting to bloom though there are cold days ahead… in case you were wondering about the weather in Virginia. 😉