Better When We’re Together



Here’s the thing about Minecraft… It’s way better to play with friends! Sam will play by himself if he has to, but even then he’ll call me over to share his new findings and bounce ideas around. In order to keep me engaged in the game, he’s come up with some interesting tactics. He built me a farm in one of his worlds, and then made sure to plant food and flowers that I like. He built a big house, which he filled with paintings and book shelves.  He’s also started creating elements that appeal to his sister, like castles with purple walls.

To satisfy his social gaming, in addition to weekend play dates, he’s started going to a weekly kids’ Minecraft club at our local library. The club was started by a fifth grade student from Sam’s school, and typically five to ten kids attend each week. It’s been interesting to observe the group dynamics. The older kids are sometimes helpful to the younger kids, but they’re also typically more competitive and a lot louder. There are a few girls that attend regularly, which has made Isabel more interested in both the game and the club (and now I want to learn more about girls in gaming).

Let’s Have Some Fun In Minecraft!

photo-6Forget about football, the only game of note in our house is Minecraft. We’re not alone; to date the PC version of the game has sold 14 million copies. Players can also craft using a PlayStation 3 version, an Xbox 360 version, and a mobile pocket edition.

We’re going to do a mini-study of some of our big questions about Minecraft this month.

  • How can we make a working spaceship on Minecraft? (Sam)
  • How can we make a princess castle? (Isabel)
  • How can we set up our own private server? (Elise)
  • What if we could start a Minecraft birthday party business? How would we do it? (Elise and Sam)
  • Why do people like Minecraft so much? Why does it appeal to such a wide age-range? (Michael)

I’m sure that more questions will come up as we go, as they always do!


New Supplies!



Our kids always crave the newest,best art supplies; who wouldn’t? When we brought my favorite watercolor crayons outside, I held my breath. Would they treat them with the proper reverence and respect?

Mostly yes. Isabel spent an hour carefully sketching lines of color, then blending them with water.

The only run in we had was when the purple crayon broke in half. I said it was no big deal, because it’s great to have two purple crayons. She disagreed, and repeatedly threw the broken outcasts under the picnic table, because they didn’t fit her sense of order. 

It can’t be a coincidence that three friends recently sent me the link to the most beautiful blog post ever, by Mica Angela Hendricks. I’m inspired and in love with the collaborative work that Mica creates with her four-year-old daughter. They have prints and t-shirts and all kinds of good stuff for sale at Society6. I’m leaning toward buying Outer Face


New Eyes



We don’t need to get in to quotes from Proust, but I do love the idea of looking at the same old stuff, from a fresh perspective. Hanging out with a three-year-old might be the best way to help yourself transform the mundane to the amazing. Current not-to-be-missed favorite sightings include bunny slippers, a deconstructed baseball, and padlocks.







What’s caught your eye this week?


New Cities



“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.”
― Italo CalvinoInvisible Cities

A weekend trip to Ikea led to many cardboard boxes in our backyard. The boxes were the key to drawing Sam away from his two current obsessions, Survivalcraft and Minecraft. At first he didn’t even feel like going outside, but there was a very tall skinny box that became a transporter, and he was hooked. Building Minecraft cities from the boxes was his idea. He began with confidence, sure that he and I could make buildings that looked exactly like his on-line Minecraft constructions.

Sam realized pretty quickly that we couldn’t create an exact match with our materials. He railed about that for a while, and then shifted gears, to create something new. The process took a lot of negotiation, patience, and packing tape. He was proud of his city buildings, even though they look nothing like Minecraft block buildings. It was bedtime, and he bargained to stay outside just a little longer, to put on the finishing touch – a “balancing side patio” for Isabel’s dolls.

I hope the city will last a few days, before the real patio is reclaimed. I love observing the process, and the interplay between the low tech cardboard and his virtual world on the iPad. For more cardboard box inspiration, check out Caine’s Arcade and Caine’s Arcade 2. We’re thinking about hosting a Cardboard Challenge on October 5. Who wants to join us? 

New & Improved



Have you tried anything new lately? Like climbing a sculpture, without your shoes?

I haven’t, but September seems like a good month to change that. And it seems like a good month to get back to photography and writing, as our schedules get a little more predicable.

As you head back to school, work, or other adventures, what are you trying that’s new to you?

Moby-Mix – Oceanic Book Recs



Earlier this year, Sam and his dad started reading Moby-Dick at bedtime. It was an abridged version, from the dollar store, and it was a big hit, at least for Sam. While there are infinite layers of symbolism that he might explore when he reads Moby-Dick down the road, for now it lives in his mind as a great adventure tale, which is good enough for me.

The story became even more intriguing, when we recently found Moby-Dick In Pictures by Matt Kish. He really created one drawing for every page of the original novel, and each illustration is fascinating. Even though I didn’t start as a particularly rabid Moby-Dick fan, this is a book that I must own. That I will own!


We’re both in love with the book, and with Matt’s art, so we also recommend his very fine blog.

I thought our whale tale was settling down, and then we found Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalist, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them. If you made it through the title, you might enjoy the book. It’s a dense, non-fiction account of exactly what the title describes. I’m reading it to Sam, and I think we’ll be maximizing our renewal limit on this one. But he loves it, so I’ll keep on reading, all for the love of a water-loving boy.



What are your watery book recommendations?