Tag Archives: LEGO

Why I Loved The LEGO Movie and Think Your Family Should See It, Too

B doesn’t have any of The LEGO Movie building sets, but he made Lord Business
(in the middle) and Emmet (on the right) from LEGOs he already owned.  He also
made a mini-figure of himself (on the left) and brought it to the movie with us.

B has loooooong anticipated The LEGO Movie being released in theaters.  Creating with LEGOs is one of his favorite things to do and his builds amaze the hubs and me.  More than not, we rent children’s movies but we knew that this movie had to be seen in a theater.

I have to be honest, I’ve not been thrilled with at least half of the movies geared towards children in the last 5 years or so.  They’re quite entertaining for the kids but I’ve been unhappy with plots that don’t capture my interest, character behaviors or inappropriate “bad”characters for G and PG ratings (I will never get over the fact that Charles Muntz in Up tried to kill Carl and Russell, a child!).  So, although I agreed to take B to see The LEGO Movie this morning, I didn’t have high expectations.  Man, was I pleasantly surprised!

Don’t worry; the movie was just released yesterday and I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone.  However, this movie was much more than just entertainment for my family and I want to share that and encourage y’all to see this movie, too.

During the opening credits, I was impressed that everything was built with LEGOs, including the Warner Bros. logo.  However, once the actual movie started, I viewed it as any other CGI’d movie of late.  Then a scene took place out on the open sea and while the waves were rolling, it hit me that this movie was not CGI’d; it was stop motion.  The time, patience and meticulousness in that scene alone just blew me away!  I can’t imagine how long this movie took to create but I know it had to have been made with love by people who feel the same about LEGOs as my B does.

There were a couple of characters and celebrity voices who made cameo appearances in the movie that caught us completely off guard.  I’d not seen them in any trailer nor heard anything about them in reviews and I loved it!

Like all children’s movies, there is a lesson to be learned, a moral.  And although I was aware of the lesson the movie was trying to teach, I felt the characters, the action and the humor were overshadowing the lesson and kids would leave just feeling happy and entertained, not focussed on the lesson.  And then the movie did something completely unexpected that brought its important lesson not only to the forefront, but also into a perspective that every child and adult in that theater could relate to. I have to say, Warner Bros., you impressed the socks off me with that one!

What was happening on that screen is something that happens in my own house.  I never would have gotten the symbolism and made the connection to my home if the writers and producers hadn’t “focused the lens so sharply” for the audience and I’m so glad they did.  If it happens in my home, it happens in other homes, too.  The creators of this movie so eloquently opened the eyes of us parents to see things, see our children and ourselves, through our children’s eyes.

And if this issue exists in your home, seeing this movie together will start a dialogue about it.  We saw the movie at 11am and B and I are still talking to each other about this movie at 7pm.  We’re not only laughing at funny lines or marveling at the movie sets, but we’re also analyzing characters, discussing the personality traits exhibited and listening to each others perspective on the symbolism we now realize was throughout the entire movie.  It reminds me of high school English class, dissecting a Shakespeare play, only I’m doing it with my son and we are both loving the conversations!

I hope y’all go see this movie and are as impressed as I was.  Once you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it, what you and your family got out of it and if this was an issue in your home or not.  You can tell me in the comments, below, or on my Facebook page.

DIY LEGO Birthday Cake

So B had a LEGO Building Party on the 15th and I had to make LEGO brick cakes!  I was going to make 1 rectangular brick from a 9″x13″ cake pan, but B had other plans.  He informed me that the rectangular brick was not the “original” LEGO brick; the square one with 4 nodules on top was.  He also informed me he wanted a half and half cake, like Wegmans does in their full sheet cakes (one half is vanilla and 1 half is chocolate).  I decided to make 1 cake of each flavor.  So here’s what I did.



With each box of cake mix, I made an 8″x8″ cake and 6 cupcakes.  I only needed 4 cupcakes for the top of each cake, but I felt better having extras in case I messed something up.  If I am decorating cakes, I never ice them the same day they are baked.  I let them set up for at least 24 hours and they are easier to work with, in my opinion.  Here are all my pieces, cooled.

I sliced off the rounded top of each cake.  Turning them upside down would not have worked; I wanted both top and bottom to be flat.

 

I cut the top of four cupcakes off.  Leaving them in the wrapper made a perfect guide line for me.
I laid the cupcakes, upside down on the cake to test out where they would go and make sure they fit.
Then I iced the base….
…and each cupcake.  I tried holding the cupcakes from the bottom and icing them, but I could not hold them steady enough and I got more icing on my fingers than on the cupcakes.  So, I cleaned the bottom of an icing can, put a dollop of icing on it to use as “glue” to hold the cupcake in place and iced them that way.  So much better!
When i had completely iced a cupcake, I used a thin, metal spatula to slide the cupcake off the bottom of the icing can and onto the cake.
I could have left the cakes like this, but that’ not me.  Every nodule (they are actually called “pips”, according to LEGO) on every LEGO brick has the word “LEGO” in it.  So I used a toothpick while the icing was still soft and wrote LEGO on top of all 8 pips.
There you go!

How I Threw a LEGO Building Birthday Party for 8 Boys for Less Than $85

See what great, inexpensive finds helped me throw a great party on the cheap!

B turned 9 this month and requested a LEGO building party.  Thank goodness for Birthday Party Ideas‘ website!  I read the descriptions of several different LEGO parties and started writing down the ideas that I liked and thought I could handle.  Then I sat up late for a couple nights in a row to narrow down exactly what I was going to do and how.  First of all, we needed LEGOS for the party.  B has a good quantity of LEGOS, but not much of a variety.  Most of his sets were Star Wars themed, so his storage tub is full of gray, black, brown and white LEGOS.  I wanted the bright, vibrant, rainbow colors of LEGOS involved in the party.  Plus, I wanted the guests to be able to take some LEGOS home as their “goody bag” item and I was not going to give away B’s.

 

So, I headed out to shop the thrift and consignment shops.  Now, I knew my chances of finding actual LEGO bricks at a 2nd hand store were slim to none.  However, I had gotten a great idea from the BPI website of making the invitations out of bricks and I wanted to use the larger MEGA-BLOKS for those.  I walk into the 1st store on my list, looked to my right, and right under the window was a tub of MEGA-BLOKS for $6.50!    I picked that baby up immediately b/c I did not want another shopper to grab it while I browsed the rest of the shop.  There wasn’t anything else there for the party, but B bought himself an aircraft carrier that was 1′ x 2′ for $3!  (I made sure he brought his money with him on this trip so I did not have to listen to any whining about him wanting me to buy him something.)  When we got home, I filled B’s bathtub will water and some bleach and soaked the MEGA-BLOKS, the tub and it’s lid for several hours.  Drained the water, rinsed the blocks, washed the tub, refilled the tub with clean water, let the blocks soak in that for a few hours, drained and set on towels to dry.

The next night I worked on the writing I wanted to put on the invitations.  I decided I wanted the invites to look like a wall – 4 rows of bricks, 8 sets of nodules across.  I built an invitation, covered both sides with scotch tape b/c I did not know how many tries it would take to get the words to fit and used a Sharpie to write the words.  They all fit!  I actually wrote on both sides of the bricks, so that would make it more of a challenge for the guests.  ;o)  I dug through the tub and pulled out blocks to put the rest of the invitations together and wrote directly on them all. 


The other side of the invitation had the RSVP information, our street address and advised guests with allergies that we have cats.  Each invitation was then taken apart and the pieces put in a manila envelope.  I found a LEGO font online, downloaded it to the computer and printed out a “label” (just a sheet of printer paper I taped to the front of each envelope) that read:

TO: GUEST NAME
FROM: B
(ASSEMBLY REQUIRED)

We then hand delivered each invitation.

B is a member of the Geoffrey Birthday Club at Toys R Us and every year he receives a birthday card and $3 coupon to spend in the store.  This year, I also received a coupon in the mail – $5 off $25 – I assume to encourage me to buy the birthday boy’s present at their store.  The 3 of us headed up to TRU with our coupons and B’s wallet on October 1st.  I was disappointed that they did not have any of the LEGO tubs that contain random bricks for use at the party.


However, I was psyched to find these LEGO Fun Favor Packs on the Clearance rack!  The original price was not listed, but they were marked down to $12.98 and there were signs up stating that additional markdowns on all clearance items would be taken at the register.  I picked up 2, because I needed 8 car kits for the party, and there were only 4 car kits and 4 plane kits in each box.  At the register they rang up as $8.50 each and I used my $5 off coupon!  (Ben’s purchase with his own money was added to my purchase to reach the $25 minimum required to use the coupon.)

I ended up ordering the below random bricks set from Amazon.com.  It had 650 bricks (81 bricks per child), cost $28.79 and shipping was free.


I divided the 650 bricks (I counted all of them and there were actually only 647 bricks in this box.  However, since every other set we have ever received from LEGO came with extra pieces, I decided not to make a stink about it) into 8 ziptop sandwich baggies to keep them separated. Those baggies came back to haunt me at the party…

I made 2 LEGO brick cakes.  I was going to make one 9″ x 13″ cake in the shape of a rectangular brink.  However, B informed me that the rectangle was not the classic, original brick.  The square one with 4 nodules on top was and, therefore, I needed to make that kind of brick.  So I made 2, square LEGO brick cakes – one vanilla and one chocolate.  I even took a toothpick and wrote the word “LEGO” on the top of each nodule, just like the real bricks.  :o)  These cakes were definitely not my best work, but the kids thought they were awesome and that’s all that mattered to me! 

We bought 2 Costco pizzas and baked them for dinner – one cheese and one pepperoni and served water to drink.  To try and keep with the LEGO color scheme, I bought a blue, vinyl, flannel-backed tablecloth (which ended up not covering the whole table, but no big whoop), green napkins, red cups and used our own orange plates.  Now, onto the party, itself…

We moved the furniture around in the living room to make more floor space for the boys to play.  We put B’s tub of LEGOS and the MEGA-BLOKS tub on the floor and let the boys build and play until all the guests arrived.  Ben had also set out LEGO creations he’d put together earlier on surfaces throughout the 1st floor.  The random play took up the 1st half hour of the party.  I don’t know who was having more fun – the boys or the hubs!  One of the boys looked around and said to me in awe, “None of our parents are here.”  I replied, “I know!  It’s a big-boy-drop-off party!  Whoop!  Whoop!”  Which started a round of “Whoop-Whoops” from everyone.  LOL! 

Then I called the boys to the kitchen table.  I got 8 sets of disposable chopsticks from Wegmans (free) and used their paper wrappers along with rubber bands I already had to make “kid-friendly” chopsticks.  One of our cereal bowls and a set of chopsticks was placed at each seat and the boys sat down.  The baggies of LEGOS were in the bowl at the center of the table and I passed them out.  Now began the building challenges.

Challenge #1 – Using your chopsticks, how many bricks can you pick up out of your bag and put into your bowl in 1 minute?  After this one was over, I had all the boys poor their bags of LEGOS into their bowls and I removed the bags from the tables.

Challenge #2 – Who can build the tallest and most sturdy tower using all of your bricks?  (Untimed)  This one took the longest amount of time, but setting a timer would mean not all the boys would get to use all their blocks.  I took a picture of each boy with his tower and am going to print the pictures out to make the Thank You cards.

Challenge #3 – Build a person in 1 minute.  Now, when the timer went off, I got a lot of “not fairs” and “I didn’t get to finish” complaints about the short amount of time, including from the hubs.  However, 2 boys were able to finish a complete person before time was up and 1 boy made 2 people!  Those who did not finish were creating big people and only got legs done.

Challenge #4 – Build something, anything, that flies in 6 minutes.   They built planes, helicopters, blimps, UFOs and one boy built a fishing pier with a fishing pole hanging off the end.

Challenge #5 – By this time, it was time to put the pizza in the oven, so we gave them LEGO car kit bags from the Favor Packs.  I told them they were each to build a car and then they would race them.  They could build it exactly as the kit comes, they could “supe” up the kits with their bowl of LEGOS or they could make a car completely from scratch.  After the cars were made we went back to the living room where B’s architect desk is.  It’s slanted, so each boy took a turn rolling his car down the desk to see how sturdy it was.  Only 2 out of the 8 cars survived the fall without losing any parts.  Some boys made adjustments to their cars.

Challenge #6 – Who’s car could go the farthest?  I knelt at the entrance to the kitchen from the living room with one of our kitchen mats in my hand held up like a ramp.  Each child placed his car at the top of the “ramp”, let go and watched how far it went.  All cars stayed on the floor until all had been released and the “winner” was announced.  The boys went back to make building adjustments to their cars and wanted to race again.

By now, pizza was ready and we served it up.  I put the loose LEGOS back into the ziptop baggies with the cars they had made as well as the bag and instruction sheet for the cars.  The bags and instructions had admission coupons to LEGOLAND and a LEGO Club membership.  I put each boy’s name on their bag and set them aside.  As they were about to take their 1st bite of pizza, one of the boys said, “Wait! We need to pray first!” and a few others said, “Yeah, yeah!”  What a pleasant surprise!  I asked who wanted to say grace and half the hands went up.  Then one of the boys said, “No, the birthday boy should say the prayer,” and so he did.  :o)  One of the boys was picked up early, while they were eating pizza.  The rest finished eating and then we brought out and served the cakes.

With 30 minutes left before their parents came, we gave the boys the option of racing their cars again or going outside to play and they chose outside.  Thank goodness!  It was loud inside our tiny house!  ;o)  I grabbed a grocery bag and put their ziptop baggies in it as well as the plane building kits to take home with them.  We walked over to a common ground area diagonally across the street from us and let them run around.  They played tag and hide-and-seek and we flagged down the parents as the arrived.

As I’m handing out ziptop baggies and plane kits to the parents at pick-up, I got really embarrassed!  Good thing it was dark out by this time so no one saw me blush.  I hadn’t even thought to get nice, actual goody bags; I’m handing them a sandwich baggie!  Oh, well.  Whether the bag was clear and ziptop or colored and designed, it’s probably going to end up in the trash and I’m sure no one cared about it but me.

After everyone was gone, we went back inside and the hubs and I ate while B opened up his gifts.  “Always open the card first, right Mom?” B said with a wink.  The party was a great time!  There were a couple of extra things I wish I had done, like hang the MEGA-BLOKS from the ceiling for decoration and decorate the front door to look like a giant LEGO brick.  But you know what?  The parents and the kids might have looked at those when they first arrive and thought, “How cool!” but never thought about them again.  They had a great time doing at the party and none of them could believe they actually got to take their baggie of LEGO bricks home.  LOL!  That’s all they needed.

So, here’s the cost breakdown of the entire party:

19″x14″x14″ tub of MEGA-BLOKS     $  6.50
Blue tablecloth     $  4.99
Green napkins     $  2.49
LEGO Bricks & More Set #6177     $28.79
Two LEGO Fun Favor Packs     $12.00
Two boxes of Pillsbury cake mix – one vanilla & one chocolate     $  1.76
Two cans of Duncan Hines Butter Cream Frosting     $  3.58
Red, plastic, 16-oz cups     $  1.99
Two Costco pizzas – one pepperoni & one cheese     $16.98
Prints from Costco for Thank You cards     $  0.96
Sales tax     $  4.00
Party Total     $84.04
 
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