Category Archives: Crafty Mama

Not A Box

Every Halloween, I get a longing (and a cold sweat) to make a homemade costume out of an old box from the garage.

When I was a kid, we didn’t buy expensive costumes. We rummaged through closets and junk drawers and toy bins and made costumes. But alas, my 21st century, shopaholic kids aren’t interested in such out-of-the-box, made-from-a-box pursuits. Instead, they wait eagerly for the pop-up Halloween store to open its doors, and they spend gobs of money on overpriced, over-muscled, and over-commercialized costumes, like Superman, Obi-Wan-Kenobe, Optimus Prime, and Max Steel. (I have no idea who Max Steel is either, but his costume is collecting dust in one of my many messy closets.)

It’s not that I’ve never tried to make one of the kids a Halloween costume from a box. It’s that I’ve never ever succeeded. This year, Dylan and Riley are dressing up as Captain America (shield sold separately!) and a Hot Wheels racecar driver (the yellow one!), respectively.

I’ve accepted my fate. I’m the Mama of two boys who don’t want to wear a costume made out of a box.  Or am I?

A funny thing happened recently.


Do you know who’s inside that box?

Riley! Riley who drags boxes from the garage into the house when I’m not looking! Riley who uses tape, paper towel rolls, pipe cleaners, birthday candles, and glue (so much glue!) to turn boxes into space ships, grocery stores, and monster crushers! Riley who dreams up the wildest, strangest, and most out-of-the-box ideas into which to turn a box!

I blame the fact that I didn’t connect these dots sooner on Minecraft. (To be clear, I blame everything on Minecraft.)

Riley has to dress up as a storybook character for the costume parade at school, and he can’t wear his Hot Wheels racecar driver costume because we don’t have a Hot Wheels book (thank God), but he can be a racecar because of this


Not a Box is a book about a rabbit that insists his box is not a box. Rather, it’s a racecar or a robot or a pirate ship or a hot air balloon or a tugboat or a space ship…or anything he imagines!

The way I see it, this is my last chance to make a homemade costume before Riley’s old enough to figure out that costumes made by mom aren’t cool.

“Riley,” I asked tentatively one night (while hand-feeding him marshmallows), “how about Not A Box for the costume parade? We could take a box from the garage and turn it into a ‘not a box’ racecar. What do you think?”

Silence. (Not Minecraft silence, but thoughtful silence.)

“What do you think?” I asked again.

“Okay,” he said.

“Okay?” I asked.

“Okay,” he said.


Holy crap! One of my kids said I could make a costume out of a box!


Be patient, Mamas. Dreams do come true.




Filed under boys, craft project, Crafty Mama, Halloween

Legoland: The Good, The Great, and The Well…

The Good

The “good” category is for things that, depending on your viewpoint, are either “great” or “well…” (i.e. not so great).  Riley often says, “Well…” just before confessing to peeing on the bathroom floor or smacking Dylan in the face.

Behavior modification via wine.  On our first night in Winter Haven, we tried to have a leisurely dinner at the Outback Steakhouse, but the kids had other plans.  I told them I’d take them back to the hotel if they let me finish one glass of wine.  Then I told them if they were good, I’d finish my wine quickly, but if they misbehaved I would drink it very slowly.  (Judge me if you must, but it worked.)

Froot Loops.  I don’t serve Froot Loops in my house, but I follow a “When in Rome…” food policy when we’re traveling.  On our last morning, the boys found the Froot Loops at the hotel’s breakfast buffet.  Six mini Froot Loop cereal boxes later, they transformed into actual Froot Loops.

“Close but no cigar” Crocs.  Riley insisted on wearing these mismatched Crocs the whole trip.  The boy beats to his own drum!  Or, he’s a stubborn pain in the butt!  I’ll let you decide.

The Great (in no special order)

Televisions with Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network at every table at the hotel restaurant.

Warm and friendly service.  Everyone we met at Legoland was wonderful, including the woman who gave the boys ponchos (for free) when it started pouring just as we were walking to the car.

Amazing Lego figures and models, like this wolf:

New York City:

And the White House:

Hello Obamas and Bo!

Clean bathrooms.  Nuff said.

Cool playgrounds:

Complimentary coffee in the lobby of our hotel starting at 6am.  (This is a must when your children are roosters and/or Froot Loops.)

Taking pictures of your napping child with signs written on napkins.

When your kid hugs Lego Dude and says to Lego Dude, “I love you.”

Lego play zones in restaurants.  Parents can sit and eat in peace and kids can play, except for when the mean little boy took Legos from Riley and then told his mom he didn’t and then called Riley a liar!  [Insert dramatic music.]  More on this in a future post.

Finding an owl for sale at Legoland…

…and exhibiting amazing impulse control by not buying it.  But then buying these Lego coasters a few minutes later:

No lines!  Hint: Go during the week.  We heard weekends are a lot busier.

The boys’ travel journals!  Crafty Mama success!

Lego Driving School.  The kids got to drive real Lego cars on a real raceway.  Fun!  (Dylan is actually a good driver.  Riley…not so much.)

And for $14.99 each, the kids got driver’s licenses.  Pricey – like the teeny-tiny bucket of popcorn that cost $4 but included unlimited $1.50 refills! – but adorable.

The “Well…”

The food.  Maintaining a low-carb/high-kale diet in the middle of nowhere (sorry Central Florida) at an amusement park isn’t easy.  For comparison sake, I found eating healthy far easier at Disney World.  Suffice it to say, a kale salad is on the menu for dinner tonight.

The Super Star Destroyer.  3152 pieces.  $399.99.  This should be illegal.  Even Dylan knew I would never allow that in my house.  It would be me or the destroyer.  (I wonder which he’d choose?)

The rides had age and height restrictions, which was mostly a good thing because the roller coasters were no joke.  Still, some height/age restrictions were confusing.  One ride said you had to be 36 inches tall and 4-12 years old.  Riley is easily 36 inches tall (and perfectly capable of sitting on a Lego horse with a seatbelt), but they wouldn’t let him ride because he was three.  Boo.  Thankfully, the carousel was for everyone.

Legoland has a water park attached to the amusement park.  There are water slides for all ages, a wave pool, and a lazy river.  It’s fun and the kids had a great time, but it required a lot of packing and schlepping to go from dry to wet and back to dry clothes.

THE VERDICT: Thumbs up from the whole family.

If you can get there by car (our drive was about 3 ½ hours), go for it.  Go during the week if you can and bring plenty of sunscreen.  The Holiday Inn Winter Haven was lovely (there are no resort style hotels nearby…yet).  There’s not much to do in Winter Haven besides Legoland, so if your trip requires air travel, I recommend adding Legoland as a side trip to an Orlando or Tampa vacation.  The park is about 45 minutes from both cities.  With small kids, two days was a perfect amount of time to spend there (considering weather, naps, meltdowns, etc.).  With older kids, you might be able to do it all in one day.

p.s. Legoland is an alcohol-free property (for now).  For this reason, Mike wanted to give it a “thumbs down” on principle, but I convinced him to turn his thumb around.

Next stop…San Francisco!

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Filed under Crafty Mama, Legoland, Legos, shopping, vacation