Tag Archives: Sandbox List Adventures

The Process And The Hanna Barbera Journey

24 May

It took me back to Saturday morning cartoons. Just like our annual cardboard boat race, this little adventure took me back to the 80s where I dreamed of being one of the Hanna Barbera cartoons and building my own hot rod to race to the finish line.

We were pretty jazzed up to learn that my son’s Boy Scout pack would be hosting the annual Pinewood Derby. We marked the calendar, bought our kit and the kids laid out their Crayola Crayons Blueprint, LEGO drivers included of course.

We made visits to the Do-It-Yourself Center and Michael’s Craft Store to buy all the goods for this epic project. Every day leading up to the big race we worked on the cars … sanding them, cleaning them, painting them multiple times, adding decals and then our final touches. I made sure not to get too crazy though, I didn’t want to turn into Momzilla and take over the project. I wanted to make sure my kids did most of the work.

But you know, the day of the actual race itself didn’t live up to the hype I imagined in my Hanna Barbara mind. After waiting for all the heats and divisions to run through their rounds the enthusiasm dwindled off.

Perhaps because it was a three-lane course instead of five-lanes, maybe there were so many divisions that it became just a repetitive exercise and not a Pinewood Derby Showdown, or maybe it was the return of the stink-eye uptight assistant den leader from region pack meetings, his presence fuels voluntary and involuntary eye-rolls from the masses.

Whatever that wonky feeling was it lingered for a bit. I mean when it was my kids’ turn I was super excited and happy and enjoyed their rounds leading up the final division race. I was happy that my son had tied for fifth place in our rookie year of this event.

But I wasn’t really jazzed up about the other participants. I didn’t really have a vested interest. There seemed to be a pattern evolving, in regards to the type of designs winning each race. I mean once I saw a couple of their races the magic was lost  … until the Outlaw Division started.

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There it was … a rules-out-the-window race, where creativity, imagination, and design were combined. It was about the fastest car but also about inventiveness, the personality of each car and then how it would perform. Those races seemed to be a little more exciting. I enjoyed my daughter coming in first place in the outlaw class and seeing her smile as her car crossed the finish line first. But through this entire experience, from blueprints to paint jobs, I was reminded of a great lesson.

It’s all about the process.

Enjoying the anticipation of it all, sharing our excitement of what was to come, talking, hanging out while we sanded and painted, and most of importantly remembering not to freak out if the paint job wasn’t spot on. They might not remember what place they finished that day, but they will remember that we built it as a family. They’ll remember how that felt. So, for future projects, I’ve got to remember that.

Process … It’s all about the process in the Hannah Barbara journey, or with anything really.

Sandbox List Adventures: Tackling The Warped Wall With Pharrell Williams

11 Mar

Beat the wall! Beat the wall! Beat the wall!

They stare at it … mesmerized, chanting and cheering for them to reach the tippy top and grasp it with their fingertips. They scream as the Ninja Warriors cling onto the edge and pull themselves up. They ring the buzzer and raise their hands in victory.

Both my kids have envisioned this adventure countless times. They zigzag through the swings, attack the monkey bars, scale the rock walls, climb the ropes, balance on the imaginary floating steps and then  climb the slide … AKA The Warped Wall. They are masters of the playground obstacle course.

They are Mini-American Ninja Warriors and they are always up for the challenge, even when kids on the school playground recently made my son feel bad for being enthusiastic about this adventure. These Pokemon loving kids were not feeling the Ninja Warrior vibe, and left him solo to play this “boring” game on his own. And despite being sad, he tackled that playground obstacle course and had fun on his own.

It was heartbreaking to hear what happened, and like any mom I had that parent talk, the one that assures him of his unique awesomeness, the one filled with hugs and chocolate cookies, the one paraphrasing Pharrell Williams’s song of the summer. But in addition to words I found another way to lift up his spirits.  I found a way to take his Ninja Warrior dreams to the next level …

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We discovered a Ninja Warrior Gym with the help of navigation and a few freeways.

This Sandbox List Adventure is definitely going in The Jar of Awesome.

He was able to hang out with kids who were equally jazzed about the sport. There was nothing boring about this at all. He was jumping, swinging, climbing, and balancing his way through these mini obstacles and loving every minute of it and his sister was loving this ride just as much. I think she was born a ninja.

The smiles were worth the drive, and knowing that I had made this possible, especially after such a difficult week on the playground, was so rewarding. As a parent, finding these moments for my kids filled that sometimes-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-as-a-parent-but-I’m-trying-my-best-space with a giant high five.

They left feeling energized, enthusiastic, and ready for more. He left feeling awesome. He left feeling like he could beat that wall! And he left with one request … a feel-good song. Happy by Pharrell Williams. It was the theme song for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

Sandbox List Adventures: Guatemalan Wayne Gretzky to The Rescue

16 Dec

So after a tough week and a disappointing business meeting … I’m gonna  take a bit of my own advice in order to turn a corner. I’m gonna have to open up that Blessed Project to change perspective.

And so … here I am reigning in my disappointment with chocolate and thinking about this Bucket List fail that just happened to me. Trying not to think about it and learn the lesson, actually, which is a little difficult during the chocolate-eating stages.

But even though my Bucket List Adventure didn’t pan out, thinking about my son’s brings a sense of pride and warmth to my heart and a smile to my face. Remembering that he got a chance to do something big, helps this defeat.

Looking at pictures and watching video helps me focus on something positive.

You see this one is every sports enthusiast dream.

This one fell under the highlight reel… and it ended up being a great outing. You see, I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case you’ve missed it … This is a House of Sports! We enjoy playing and watching them. And when the Olympics comes every four years … forget about it! All day every day. I guess it stems from the time I towered at 5-foot-3, tallest Guatemalan in the houuuuuse, and I swore I was a baller who was gonna make it big time. Showtime at The Forum. However injuries and reality being what they are and all … my balloon deflated and that never came to pass.

However my son … he made it. Guatemalan Wayne Gretzky got a chance to skate at The Staples Center during a L.A. Kings game and everyone was flipping out. Getting there early to check in our bags, watching the players warm-up, seeing my son walk down the tunnel and hit the ice, seeing him takes his first steps and then find his groove, all of that made everyone’s Bucket List.

I felt so happy that he was able to get this opportunity and even more proud that he didn’t waste it. He appreciated all the pregame routines and when he got on the ice … he went for it. While some kids didn’t even get a chance to touch the puck, my son went all out. Clear eyes, full hearts.

He hustled, took the puck away, then went left,  right then left again. He went around and through a couple of players made it to his goal, slapped that puck with an awesome swing, it skidded through a diving player …

And then …

Then by the hair on the chinny-chin-chin the goalie narrowly blocked that shot. My son put his hands up in the air, he couldn’t believe it. I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. Even though the puck didn’t find the back of the net, watching that move, seeing him go all out made my day, week, month.

That right there … that was a bottle-me-up memory which I uncorked today. Sandbox List Adventures working it’s magic. It brought a smile to my face, when I felt disappointment, warmed my heart when it was feeling cold, made me smile when I was sad, and changed my perspective when I needed to find a new one.

Guatemalan Wayne Gretzky to the rescue on a Friday night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandbox List Adventure 33 … The Building and Dreaming Continues

18 Jan

They’re everywhere. Ask any parent of a seven-year old kid. They’ll tell you.

First it’s Thomas The Train sets, then it’s construction Mighty Machine vehicles, Hot Wheels, monster trucks, and then the Big One.

LEGOS.

They’re a part of parenthood.

I hadn’t known much about the LEGO world until my son decided he liked them … now he loves them … and they’re everywhere.

Despite his LEGO storage set and cabinet, I still find helmets, light sabers, blasters, Batarangs, sirens, and lone pieces scattered about. I find them next to backpacks, under the table, in seat cushions, behind cabinets, and under my bare feet in the middle of the night.

But now, I’ve learned to find the awesome potential in these little plastic pieces.

So much so that we’ve made multiple trips to Legoland and continue to do so every year. But just recently I was able to add another LEGO adventure and it blew my son’s LEGO mind. He came back with a burst of imagination and even more enthusiasm to build, dream, build, and dream some more. I definitely got a high-five at the end of the day.

Sandbox List Adventure # 33 The Bricks Convention.

There have been plenty since #32, but I’ve forgotten to post about them, just like any parent, I’m always playing catch-up.

But I did manage to make it to this one. We missed it last year because I had no idea it existed, but I was made aware of it and so was my son.

So The Guats went on a field trip to discover what the imagination can do with small interlocking pieces of plastic.

Apparently a lot.

These are just the highlights …

 

 

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Sandbox List Adventures 32: American Ninja Warrior Finds Mud

18 Apr

It all started two years ago.

I was just surfing the channels and I came across something that would change my son’s life.

American Ninja Warrior.

He was mesmerized by the challenge of the obstacles and the will of the contestants, just regular non-steroid looking type of people, who worked in an office during the day and sort of turned into Batman at night and conquered these ridiculous muscle crushing obstacles.

He loved it.

He started making his own obstacles, out of cones, hula hoops, jump rope, and mats. Both of my kids began their mini-American-Ninja-Warrior obstacle course sessions on a weekly basis. Sometimes they’d take it out to the playground at the park and we’d have our own race among the slides and monkey bars.

But it didn’t quite feel the same. It felt like training, and not the “real” race. He’d always ask me when he would participate in a “real one,” and no matter how many fun runs or color runs we did, they were not American Ninja Warrior caliber. Not until we found …

The Down and Dirty Obstacle Race sponsored by Suburu. The Adventure Kids Series.

Suburu you rock.

Both my son and daughter got a chance to test their mini muscles and grit against the Down and Dirty course. This was where he got a chance to cross the balance beam, jump through some tires, go under a cargo net, over a mini wall, dash through some mud, and race up an incline to cross the finish line. Although if you want to know the truth there wasn’t much dashing going on through the mud. And I was doing so much cheering that I forgot to save some of those Kodak moments for our Sandbox List Adventure memory book. I loved watching it live too much. But I did snap a few, and I was grateful I captured some of that.

I was grateful for another successful attempt at crossing things off my son’s list.

My son loved the fact that he was conquering all the obstacles and his sister wasn’t too far behind. He loved the fact that he was letting his American Ninja Warrior shine through, and we were there cheering him on. I loved the fact that I was able to give that to him and to my daughter. The smiles at the finish line were definitely worth all the mud.

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Sanbox List Adventure 29: Meeting Your Hero

14 Apr

We have 13 of them.

Over the past year we’ve collected 13 of them. We started with three and now we have 13. I’m sure the count is gonna keep on rising. Apparently the Cape Crusader is the best superhero on Earth, even though he doesn’t actually have superhero powers, he’s super skilled in martial arts and has all kinds of gadgets to assist his crime fighting capabilities.

So it was of the utmost important that we didn’t miss meeting him.

At last year’s Festival of Books, we witnessed the awesomeness of The Justice League read one of their adventures on stage, but failed to meet them in person, which did not go over well with the kids. Luckily I was able to distract them with snacks, samples, superhero books, Captain Underpants, Scooby-Doo, and other scavenger hunt prizes.

I was packing light this year, and didn’t think sandwiches, Cutie oranges, cheese sticks, and graham crackers would cut it. So I was determined to weave my way in and out of the overheated masses and their cranky parents to reach the Meet-and-Greet line. I was on a mission to make the introduction. I was on a mission to make a Sandbox List Adventure come true.

So I was a little worried when a guy wearing a batman t-shirt and cap came on stage to read Skyscraper Showdown. I didn’t see Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, or Batman. Don’t get me wrong the guy was quite animated and very into the story, but he had nothing on the Cape Crusader.

I began to worry as my son asked me for the third time where Batman was and my daughter was wondering when Flash or Wonder Woman were going to show up … but then just as the Joker was about to escape … he showed up and the crowd went wild. Apparently it was one of the best readings we attended. And even though Batman was the only superhero there, my daughter followed her brother’s lead and enjoyed the book.

But the magic of reading didn’t stop there.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the books, going on adventures that can only happen with literary magic, listening to music, and meeting all kinds of authors. It was one of the best Sandbox List Adventures this year. I know that because they’re still talking about it.

 

We got there early and saddled-up for an awesome adventure.

We got there early and saddled-up for an awesome adventure.

 

One of our first stops was the checking out the featured band ... that woke everybody up with their awesome jams.

One of our first stops was checking out the featured band … they woke everybody up with their awesome jams.

 

We followed that up by adding our names and favorite books to the wall of inspiration. My son of course chose Batman :)

We followed that up by adding our names and some of our favorite books to the wall of inspiration. My son of course chose Batman 🙂 My daughter chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. I decided to add The Alchemist, Eat Pray Love, and The Life of Pi.

 

We managed to play a few games before we went to the main event.

We managed to play a few games before we went to the main event.

 

Then we headed to the children's stage to check out our main event.

Then we headed to the Children’s Stage to check out our main event. We got front seats and enjoyed the reading of Skyscraper Showdown.

 

This is when all the kids went crazy ...

However the crowd went wild when this guy showed up …

 

However this is when my son was starstruck. He could barely contain himself. He was so excited to meet his hero and have Batman sign his book. It was his cartwheel-worthy moment of the week.

My son was starstruck. He could barely contain himself. He was so excited to meet his hero and have Batman sign his book. It was his cartwheel-worthy moment of the week.

 

When the awesomeness of the Cape Crusader was done, we explored the rest of the festival and discovered new authors.

When the awesomeness of the Cape Crusader was done, we explored the rest of the festival and discovered new authors.

 

During our exploration this was one of the funnest books and booths we discovered. My daughter did her best surfer pose and joined the characters ofthe book.

During our exploration this was one of the funnest books and booths we discovered. My daughter did her best surfer pose and joined the characters of the book.

 

During our browsing session, I found this book that caught my eye. The fact that Diego Luna read it aloud intrigued me.

During our browsing session, I found this book that caught my eye. The fact that Diego Luna read it aloud intrigued me.

 

After we picked up all of our books, from new and established authors, we headed home with all kinds of inspiration and new ideas.

After we picked up all of our books, from new and established authors, we headed home with all kinds of inspiration and new ideas.

 

 

 

 

Sandbox List Adventure 27: Take Me Out to The Ball Game …

10 Mar

I’d never been. He’d never been . She’d never been.

It was a trifecta.

I can’t believe that in all my sports-loving years I’ve never been to an Opening Day of any kind and neither had my little Guats. As a sports enthusiast that sucks. In fact I shouldn’t even be admitting it, let alone writing it for all to see. I might get kicked out of the tomboy club for that. But I do mention it because that situation has been remedied.

I had the California sunshine, the national anthem, the popcorn, the cotton candy, the hot dogs, the Easton and Louisville Slugger bats swinging, the baseballs going into deep left, and then my son rounding the bases, helping his team with a 15-8 victory. It was only three innings, but he was 3 for 3 with 6 RBI.

Yeah … I gotta say … Little League Opening Day was pretty awesome. Even without the Cracker Jacks, I’m glad we all experienced this American tradition together. It prepared me for what to expect when we head off to watch the Dodgers in the spring.

Baseball … you gotta love it.

 

My son and his teammates taking the field as they announce the teams.

My son and his teammates taking the field as they announce the teams.

 

The teams cheering after the first pitch was thrown.

The teams cheering after the first pitch was thrown.

 

Something tasty for the kids.

Getting something tasty for the kids after Opening Ceremonies.

 

Something you absolutely have to have when you go to a ball game. You have to ... it's a rule. Sometimes you can even have two.

Then getting something for yourself, because you absolutely have to get a hot dog when you’re at the ball game. You have to … it’s a rule. Sometimes you can even have two.

 

But if you're a serious carnivore there was something for you too.

But if you’re a serious carnivore there was something for you too.

 

After all that food we definitely needed to work out, so we tested a few new bats.

After all that food we definitely needed to work out, so we tested a few new bats before the Homerun Derby.

 

But of all the things this Opening Day weekend this was probably my favorite ... my son, hitting one over third base.

But of all the things this Opening Day weekend, this was probably my favorite … my son, hitting one over third base and my daughter and I cheering him on. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that my son tagged someone out at second, but I loved this moment even more.

 

Sandbox List Adventure: A Different Perspective

7 Feb

These tiny pieces of plastic have dominated my home in form of skyscrapers, superheroes, fire engines, policemen, airplanes, miniature villages, tiny people with their own adventures, books, stickers, games, calendars, and the mecca … LEGOLAND itself.

But this … this was something he hadn’t seen before so the excitement was building.

It was his many stories … his imagination coming to life on the big screen and he wanted to see it. He wanted to experience it. He wanted to see what someone had created with the very same LEGOS he plays with everyday. He wanted to see someone’s story. He wanted to see what they came up with … he wanted to compare stories … he wanted to get ideas. He wanted to go on another LEGO adventure. A big one.

The LEGO Movie.

I’d been hearing about it for weeks.

Weeks.

The countdown had been on.

And the day was finally here, but seeing how this was The LEGO Movie I figure I’d step it up a notch.

In all my years of movie-watching I’d never experienced the 3D version of anything, neither has my son or daughter. So I figured we’d go big on this LEGO Movie and pack in as much LEGO love as possible. Seeing LEGOS in a different perspective was pretty awesome for all of us. I recommend it. It was a great story of a “… ‘Nobody’ who saved everybody.” I’d give you a full review of the movie, but figured I didn’t want to ruin the magic for those of you who hadn’t seen it. And if you haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you take your own kindergarteners on this Sandbox List Adventure. They’ll thank you for it.

 

The poster we passed on a weekly basis that reminded me when this adventure would debut.

The poster we passed on a weekly basis that reminded me when this adventure would debut.

 

Dude. I thought finding parking in front of the theater was awesome ... I can't tell you how Guatacular this sight was ... no line. I prepared myself for an onslaught of elementary school kids ... so glad we got the matinee right after school.

Dude. I thought finding parking in front of the theater was awesome … I can’t tell you how Guatacular this sight was … no line. I prepared myself for an onslaught of elementary school kids and massive lines … so glad we got the matinee right after school.

 

Hanging out in the lobby meeting one of the co- stars.

Hanging out in the lobby meeting one of the co- stars.

 

My daughter was pretty fond of the female lead, and I gotta say so was I. Lucy rocked.

My daughter was pretty fond of the female lead, and I gotta say so was I. Lucy rocked.

 

Our first 3D glasses, but probably not our last.

Our first 3D glasses, but probably not our last.

 

One of the best views of my day ... my kids enjoying every minute.

One of the best views of my day … my kids enjoying every minute … complete with popcorn.

 

Sandbox Adventure List 19: Feeling The Blue Fever

9 Sep

It was the bottle-me-up moment of the night … that one special moment you want to bottle up and save for those crappy days ahead. I caught it.

I caught The Blue Fever … and it was sweet.

My son first saw parts of their show on television … and then decided it was DVR-Worthy. Everyday-of-the-week-DVR-worthy. This is where the craze started. Everyday after his sister’s nap we heard the ba-donka-donk song followed by Luke Skywalker musical sabers swishing around and an eclectic xylophone with great tunes.

Apparently Ellen DeGeneres was giving away tickets to her entire audience, unfortunately for my son, we were sitting on the couch watching. We were nowhere near the studio audience and all the originality that is Blue Man. But it didn’t matter that we only saw it through television, he had caught The Blue Fever as soon as he had seen it.

The unique intensity and humor of the performance came through and it was something he wanted to witness. And the funny thing was that everything about it was an adventure for him from the printing of the tickets, to the bus ride, to packing the picnic basket and then to finally arriving to the outdoor show. It was something to look forward to, something to get excited about. All the little steps that I often take for granted when going to a concert or event took new meaning through my son’s eyes. They became moments of excitement and anticipation. In this Sandbox List Adventure, I realized that some things are better when living  through the perspective of my five-year old … things like The Blue Fever.

 

The Blue Man Group awaited us.

The Blue Man Group awaited us.

 

We didn't walk to the bus, my son insisted we run toward our adventure. And so we did. I was lucky not to have dropped the camera on the way.

We didn’t walk to the bus, my son insisted we run toward our adventure. And so we did. I was lucky not to have dropped the camera on the way.

 

Not only was this his first concert, but this was also his first bus ride. He constantly looked out the window to see what was coming up next. And as all the adults sat impatiently, sent text messages, or listened to music my son smiled at every landmark and took in every moment of the adventure. I totally enjoyed watching every minute of it.

Not only was this his first concert, but this was also his first bus ride. He constantly looked out the window to see what was coming up next. And as all the adults sat impatiently, sent text messages, and listened to music my son smiled at every landmark and took in every moment of the adventure. I totally enjoyed watching every minute of it.

 

The traffic was so heavy that we arrived in the evening. But that didn't matter, because the bus ride rocked.

The traffic was so heavy that we arrived in the evening. But that didn’t matter, because the bus ride rocked.

 

This is where the magic happened and we stayed tuned for it.

This is where the magic happened and we stayed tuned for it.

 

... as did the other little fans in the audience ... although most of them looked happier than this.

… as did the other little fans in the audience … although most of them looked happier than this.

 

Working their magic, making us laugh, entertaining us all with their music moves.

Working their magic, making us laugh, entertaining us all with their music moves.

 

The evening continued and one of the best parts was the grand finale ... complete with fireworks and the encore.

The evening continued and one of the best parts was the grand finale … complete with fireworks and the encore.

 

Checking out the grand finale and all of its amazement.

Checking out the grand finale and all of its amazement.

 

The night was great ... and then came the masses heading to the parking lot and we were two of them.

The night was great … and then came the masses heading to the parking lot and we were two of them.

 

 

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Sandbox List Adventure 14: Dynamic Duo, Plus One, Riding The Waves

6 Jul

I guess I’m on a roll. I hadn’t been on a roll in a while … a couple of months. But I’m on it. It felt good to be on a roll … to be rollin … to be keeping the momentum. It makes me think my life is less crappy. It makes me feel less weathered. It lowers my blood pressure. It stops the gray hairs from popping out … at least just for the day. I’ve come to realize that rolls are important and I need to make sure I stay on them as long as possible.

So I was thankful for the beach … again. It provided for another opportunity of growth, another opportunity of life, another stress reliever, another Dynamic Duo Bucket List and Sandbox List Adventure. Another opportunity for my son and I to cross off items from our wish list. And this time … my daughter joined in on the adventure.

In truth I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it. All this time hanging out like Gidget at the beach and I hadn’t tried it. I couldn’t believe it. It’s really a kid thing, I guess. All you see are these Nickelodeon-XBox loving kids hit the waves. But it’s never too late for an AMC-FX-HBO loving kid to represent the Pippi Longstock Generation on the waves.

So my Body Glove board shorts actually hit the board. The Boogie Board.

And it was awesome, so much so that my son and daughter decided to be awesome too. So we all had our first boogie boarding experience this week and it was better than expected. I had it all: The rush of catching the perfect wave and riding it all the way to shore, the Oh-My-God moment of seeing dolphins swim in the ocean while I was trying to swim too, and the most awesome experience of The Wipeout which allowed me to feel the wrath of the waves.

Sometimes waves don’t like to be ridden, luckily we found a few that didn’t mind it so much. And it didn’t matter that there were only a few … what mattered was that there were some at all and I was able to ride them.

I finally did it. It took me twenty-something years to do it, but I did it, and I was happy to share the moment with my kids. Although they didn’t really enjoy The Wipeouts. They didn’t find them fun at all. Saltwater isn’t too tasty and it burned their eyes. But they still got up and tried again. There we were The Dynamic Duo, plus one, riding the waves.

 

Testing out the waters before our adventure.

Testing out the waters before our adventure.

 

A little surprise from the sea just as he starts to paddle off,

A little surprise from the sea just as he starts to paddle off.

 

His sister learning the ropes.

His sister learning the ropes and definitely enjoying this adventure.