I CAN SMILE, AND DRAW AS I SMILE

Late last year, as part of reverting to a single wage, we decided to lay a treasured family member to rest: we cancelled our Foxtel subscription.

We’d become a TV family– come home, watch TV, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed. Given that we live in a town that other people come to for their holidays, and we have two intelligent active kids who just cry out for constant action, slipping into that kind of a lifestyle was a crime we were committing against ourselves, and we made the decision to stop and change our lifestyle around.

Currently, due to a lack of reception and the cost of the necessary cables, we have no TV reception at all. No Biggest Survivor Loser Brother. No X-Singer Star Dance on Ice. No Mastercook a Garden Decorate Building.

Yeah. Not missing it much.

When news broke earlier this week that the skeleton discovered under a Leicester carpark was, as had been hoped, indeed that of Richard III, we broke out our copy of the Kings and Queens DVD and watched the Richard III episode with the kids, explaining where the information presented by Nigel Spivey was now obsolete, and generally using it to generate a discussion with them. Then we settled around the kitchen table, and drew a picture of what we’d learned, discovered, and been fascinated with from this rediscovered monarch’s story.

And this is what we drew:

Connor, 8: George, Duke of Clarence, was drowned in red wine by King Edward IV. The King is watching from his throne and he has lots of heads he wants to cut off so he can stay King.

Erin, 11: I chose Princes in the tower because I was quite horrified that their Uncle, King Richard III, would lock them in the tower of London and then when the time came (if he knew) didn’t reveal the secret to their disappearence! I mean, he was their UNCLE!! My picture shows the two Princes, right to the throne, locked away in the Tower of London with no doors or escapes, thorns growing over the Tower, the crown in the bushes when the King died, a cage over the windows and behind the curtains, what could have been the Princes’ death.

Lee: I seem to have come over all symbolic: Richard’s battered skull, the young Princes in its vacant eye sockets, wearing the crown while biting down on the red dragon of Henry Tudor, with the white Rose of York behind, framed by the stone wall of the white Tower. There’s such an interconnectedness in Richard’s story, such a crux of history being portrayed– if he had won at Bosworth, what would have happened to Britain? To its religions, its wars? 

Lyn: I’m a bit of a Plantagenet fan and have always been fascinated by the War of the Roses. The Princes in the Tower is such a sad mystery and I love reading or watching anything that extrapolates on what happened to them. These little boys were the innocent victims of a war not of their making.

ROMANCE ISN’T DEAD. IT JUST LURKS AROUND THE LOCAL SHOPS, WAITING FOR THE UNWARY

Our local shopping centre runs a monthly giveaway. You know the type: drop your receipt in the barrel, win a prize. Every month there’s a display in the centre of the mall: a pile of gardening equipment, an outdoor setting, pamper packages,you know the sort of thing.

We never hear who wins. There’s never any promo. Frankly, we’re of the opinion that the whole thing is a scam and the ‘prizes’ are never actually awarded: it’s just some obscure head-counting or income-counting thing the shopping centre does for its own nefarious purposes.

Doesn’t stop us putting our receipts in the barrel, mind.

Which is probably a good thing, as yesterday Luscious received a phone call to tell her she’d won the most recent giveaway: $600 in Flight Centre vouchers, to spend on any of their packages.

What’s that? Romantic long weekend down south pretending we’re having a writing retreat when we’ll probably just lounge by the pool the whole time drinking bubbly and ploughing through the room service menu, I hear you cry?

Exactly what we’re thinking 🙂

REMIX MY BRICK

I was observing the kids playing with their Lego collection recently, and noticed that, while Erin 11 has begun to extend her imagination by engaging in connected free builds– creating large scale structures by consistently adding to each one each time she sits down to build– 8 year old Connor contents himself with rummaging around in the minifig box and playing story telling games with the figs.

The world: it grows, and grows…

Nothing wrong with that– after all, Lego is a toy, not a psychological determinator, and there’s really no wrong way to play with it other than the “Let’s see how many pieces we can shove up the dog’s nose” game– but I asked him why he doesn’t play with the bricks, and he replied that there’s too much Lego and he didn’t know where to start.  The kids have approximately 10 000 bricks, and I didn’t realise until he told me that the sheer bulk was just too much for the little guy. He’d never had a chance to learn small scale building techniques before being overwhelmed by the giant pile in front of him, and had no idea where to begin building a base, or frame, or even how to start experimenting with creating shapes. He took one look at that great big mountain of plastic and retreated to  a scale he could deal with: little people, and telling himself stories.

Coincidentally, while searching about for a way to activate the RockLUG Lego group (a Facebook group for people who’d like to see a Lego User Group started South of the Swan River: feel free to join!), I came across the concept of remixing: taking a single Lego set and re-imagining it in as many ways as possible. Now, when I was a kid we weren’t particularly flash, so taking a single Lego set and re-imagining it in as many was as possible was called “playing with Lego”, but somewhere along the line of my own mad dash towards a monster Lego collection I’d forgotten the concept.  It seemed like a great challenge to throw to the group, and a great way to get Master 8 learning some building concepts at a scale he could handle easily.

The set I chose was one he’d had a ball building from the instructions, a small mecha called Kai’s Fire Robot:

Ninja Mecha. Because Lego is all about peace and love and togetherness…
And to test the concept, in a bout of insomnia last night, I had a crack at it myself. So, here’s my proof of concept, for your entertainment. I present the Imperial Rocket Ice Sled, and the Frog Throne of the Ugly Prince:
Now to play with the Young Master, and see what he comes up with.