Legos and Feminism FTW!

My kid is 11. When he is not playing Minecraft, he is building with Legos. He friggen’ LOVES Legos. We have never celebrated any gift-giving holiday with him in which Lego was not involved.  By now, there are roughly four million dollars worth of Lego in my house. I’d say a good $123 worth are stuck in the heating vents and $27 worth are in the vacuum cleaner.

This Jackass lives on a steady diet of custom hair pieces and hard-to-find 1-bumpers

This asshole lives on a steady diet of custom hair pieces and hard-to-find 1-bumpers

Occasionally, we all take on a family sorting project where we try to separate them by color (white, grey and black for all the spaceships, red, yellow and green for all the houses – stuff like that.) I got bored the other day and decided to start again, only this time, instead of by color, I started picking out all the Lego people.

At first, my son thought it was nice of me to be helping. But then he found a minifig he hadn’t seen in a while. Soon, he was obsessed. Every two minutes he’d get all excited and I’d hear,

“Oh, Mom! Look at this one! It’s a StarFisherSnackMonsterBlahDittyBlah!”

Then he’d shove a tiny Lego person halfway up my nose in an attempt to show me the differently shaped stripe it had on its helmet.

After a while I faded to the background. He kept going. This had turned into a thing. Then it turned into a secret thing. His sister, who had followed me out to the kitchen for a snack, was no longer allowed to help. He worked up until dinner time and for 10 minutes between bath and bed. The next day, he was at it again. All we could hear was the crash-crash-crash of Legos and the occasional whine from his sister about why she couldn’t come in his room.

“I’m making a surprise. I’ll show you all when I’m done. I swear!”

She huffed and puffed but he wouldn’t let her in. She was so pissed.

On the third day of secretive Lego building, he announced that he was finally ready for the big reveal. His sister, irritated beyond all common sense, proclaimed that she didn’t care. She was wasn’t about to appreciate ANYTHING her brother had spent so much time building. She summed up her feelings quite succinctly,

“So what. It probably doesn’t even have any girls in it.”

He answered that with the Spock Eyebrow. For the record, I love the Spock Eyebrow. He spent months learning how to do it properly and when he pulls that move you know he’s got an ace up his sleeve.

He disappeared into his room and returned with something hidden behind his back. 

“So, as you know, I was going through all my Lego people the other day. And I noticed that I had a lot of girl hair. I didn’t know what to do with any of it at first. But then I realized I had enough to make an army.”

Which is exactly what he did. He spent three days finding the perfect pieces to made this bad ass squad of lady fighters:

I think the Storm Trooper is my favorite.

I think the Storm Trooper is my favorite.

My kid loves making Lego battles. And it never occurred to him that the Lego women wouldn’t want to fight in one. So now he has an elite squad of women fighters that are all highly trained in the murder arts. Well, all except for the woman in green – she’s an Endorian anthropologist. But I am assured that every squad needs a scientist to help them make strategic decisions. Plus, she leads the army of Ewoks so it’s not like she’s sidelined or anything.

His sister was so impressed that she even told him so.

 

Tooth Fairy Chronicles, Part 5: End Game.

While I’m away, on vacation, I thought it might be nice to revisit some old friends. Or rather, old enemies. This post is Part Five of the Tooth Fairy Chronicles, originally published on Snickerpants.com.

***

If you’ve been following this Epic Saga of goblin vs. six-year-old then you already know that Catfish (the six year old) has been busy these last few weeks. After a week’s worth of riddling, he was ready to see how all this resolved itself.

Frankly, so was I.

In order to put this adventure to bed, I had to make the end both complete and satisfying or we were going to have problems. Catfish was still on a quest to capture Finkmeister so that he could prove his claim at school. That was becoming an increasingly frustrating endeavor for him because he didn’t know how to win.

I thought about it this for several days and identified five elements that must be addressed in order for Catfish to be victorious (and stop trying to catch Finkmeister).

1. It needed to be believable. Finkmeister would have real treasure, not a bunch of Legos and Hot Wheels. Though such a stash would be awesome, it would also a dead give-away that this was all a hoax. Finkmeister likes to steal cold, hard cash from kids, not their toys.

2. It needed to include proof that this was happening. Something Catfish could take to school and show off to everyone. He needed validation from his peers because Mom and Dad were sadly inadequate.

3. It had to be difficult.  Look, just because I’m his mom doesn’t mean that I’m going to let him slack-off in the end game. This is where the difficult bits come in. If it is too easy to figure out, then why go through all the bother? Stumbled-upon treasure isn’t as rewarding as hard-won treasure.

4. It had to be exciting and sinister and vaguely threatening. This goes without saying, right? The thrill of the hunt, chase, defense …whatever. It needed to feel real.

5. It needed to have a definitive answer. Without an answer we risk expectations of Finkmeister attacks later, after he loses the other seventeen thousand teeth he’s got in his mouth.

How the heck could I do all that?!? I had no idea so I did the next best thing: I winged it.

The day following the last, incoherent note from Finkmeister, he found this in the mailbox:

Just the right amount of sinister-yet-vague threat

Just the right amount of sinister-yet-vague threat

Now that it was certain he won the duel, he could breath easy. And he did. He visibly relaxed when he knew what to expect. A treasure hunt, with a map and everything!

I was terrified of drawing anything like a map, had no idea where to put it and couldn’t figure out how to make difficult riddles, so I began with building the treasure.

A short trip to the Goodwill and I had loads of loot.

Looks pretty treasure-hoardy to me.

Looks pretty treasure-hoardy to me.

But what sort of treasure hoard would this be without money? I’d be damned if I was gonna give that kid a ton of real, actual, this-stuff-will-buy-me-Legos Money even though I could have scrounged at least ten dollars in change from various nooks and crannies in this house.

It’s just that, including US dollars seemed so… demeaning to the whole purpose of this adventure. As soon as he saw real money, the dollar signs in his eyes would brainwash him into thinking we were going to the damned toy store.

No. We were definitely not doing that. Toys weren’t the reward here. Getting to figure out the mystery was the reward. Money would just be confusing. Besides, Finkmeister stole money from kids everywhere, not just the United States.

Clearly, this treasure hoard called for foreign currency!

I put a call out an FB to my peeps – for any and all foreign coins they were willing to donate. It was surprising to see such an outpouring of good will. Everybody had a few coins from foreign parts that they wanted to include in the Finkmeister hoard.

I had already started making plans to collect said monies when my dear, sweet husband actually took notice of my post.

Please note the date and time of Brian's first response.

Please note the date and time of Brian’s first response.

Then I went to the store and bought a handful of chocolate coins and tossed them in. Voila! the hoard was complete!

This looks promising...

This looks promising…

Now for the hiding and the map making.

I scouted out places around the yard where the treasure hoard could hide, without being too obvious. Once a suitable hidey-hole was established, I had to write the riddles, make the map and bury the treasure. All of which took the better part of a day. Plus, there was a lot of sand involved. I don’t like sand. There was a lot of swearing during that part.

In order to fulfill requirement 2 (proof that this was happening) I planned the whole shebang to take place on the upcoming day off from school. Catfish had already asked me three times if I would please please please make those doughnut things with all the powdered sugar for him again. I, being the sucker that I am, agreed.

Using the old “I’m going to make some fresh beignets, would you guys like to come over for a play date?” I was able to lure Catfish’s friend and his mom over that morning.

Surprisingly, it wasn't that difficult.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult.

Map ready, treasure buried, beignets fried and liberally sprinkled, all we had to do was wait for the right time. After an hour we heard a few references to Finkmeister in their conversation. Then a few expectant sighs about a map. I asked if he’d checked for it lately…

OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT IS THAT THERE ON THE FRONT MAT?!?

OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT IS THAT THERE ON THE FRONT MAT?!?

The hunt is up! The hunt is up! And it is well nigh day!

To say this part was awesome would be an understatement. There were now TWO little boys standing in the front entryway, stunned speechless for the excitement of it. I think the best part was watching Catfish’s friend’s eyes go from “Yeah, I’ve heard you talk about Finkmeister” to “HOLY CRAP YOU WEREN’T KIDDING!!”

Here is the ‘map’:

Apparently, Finkmeister is just as bad at drawing maps as I am. Go figure.

Apparently, Finkmeister is just as bad at drawing maps as I am. Go figure.

It was priceless. Us moms had to move quickly because six year old boys in search of illicit treasure hoards are not to be trifled with. If we wanted to get any pictures at all, we had to haul ass. They were already on to the first clue:

"That's easy! Let's go talk to Heather!" "Okay! Who's Heather?"

“That’s easy! Let’s go talk to Heather!” “Okay! Who’s Heather?”

I don’t know who suggested Heather might be a plant. But soon enough, they were pawing through the shrubbery.

"I don't want to put my hand in there. You put YOUR hand in there." "I don't want to put MY hand in there...MOOOOM!"

“I don’t want to put my hand in there. You put YOUR hand in there.” “I don’t want to put MY hand in there…MOOOOM!”

And thus, a small plastic shovel was found. The second clue was much like the first. See if you can guess where we looked next:

Did you say SAGE? Because, you are so smart!

Did you say SAGE? Because, you are so smart!

And they found a plastic gardening fork.

The third clue was a hint to the location of the treasure:

Wow, he seems a little upset there.

Wow, he seems a little upset there.

And before we get too far, the fourth clue wasn’t a clue at all. It was Finkmeister delivering a slightly unsettling threat:

Told you! He's kinda being a jerk.

Told you! He’s kinda being a jerk.

But that part doesn’t matter, what matters is TREASURE!

And, of course…

"HOLY COW DUDE, THESE COINS ARE CHOCOLATE!!!!"

“HOLY COW DUDE, THESE COINS ARE CHOCOLATE!!!!”

 

I believe the sentiment they are trying to convey here is "HELLZ YEAH!"

I believe the sentiment they are trying to convey here is “HELLZ YEAH!”

For those of you who want to paw through Finkmeister’s treasure too:


Don’t miss out on the rest of the story!

Part 1: Finkmeister is a Jackass
Part 2: The Overnight Finkmeister Trap
Part 3: A Gentleman’s Duel
Part 4: Riddles Three, a Photo Essay.
Part 5: End Game.

Tooth Fairy Chronicles, Part 4: Riddles Three, a Photo Essay.

While I’m away, on vacation, I thought it might be nice to revisit some old friends. Or rather, old enemies. This post is Part Four of the Tooth Fairy Chronicles, originally published on Snickerpants.com.

***

Soon after the Gentleman’s Duel was proposed, Catfish and his father came home to this on the front porch:

Say what you will, that Finkmeister can set an atmosphere.

Say what you will, that Finkmeister can set an atmosphere.

Upon inspection, they found it was the first riddle from Finkmeister!

Seriously? This guy spells worse than the cat.

Seriously? This guy spells worse than the cat.

Their immediate response was to grab the flash light and run wildly into the front yard, inspecting every tree the came across.

En Garde, You Scoundrel!

En Garde, You Scoundrel!

When that didn’t work, they tried a little bit of cogitation. As Catfish pointed out every tree in the yard, Brian realized that one of the trees was a potted ficus. It lives outdoors during the summer and it goes back inside for the winter. It ‘walks’, Get it? GET IT?

Catfish did too. He soon found this:

Fancy compass!

OooOooo – a fancy compass!

He celebrated this first triumph by building an elaborate trap out of rope, three bungee cords and the rock-string-grappling-hook device Finkmeister used on an earlier trap. All in all, it was a very successful evening.

He didn't bait this one though. Apparently, it was just a victory trap

He didn’t bait this one though. Apparently, it was just a victory trap

After the trap building, Catfish went back outside to leave the lamp and compass (though he was sore to let them go) as he was instructed. It was hard to go to bed that night.

At six am the next morning he was dressed and waiting for the slowest parents in the world. When he was finally able to coax them downstairs, he rocketed outside. Where the lamp and compass had been, he found yet another scroll:

PS !! DESTROY!

PS !! DESTROY!

Well, of course we could not let him search alone! In a snap, we were all outside hunting for the next token. The sea and the stone part was confusing until someone pointed out it must have something to do with water and rocks, both of which could be found in the patio fountain.

Catfish enlisted his father’s help to pick up and search the rocks around the fountain. I can’t say I blame him, those rocks tend to harbor large hairy things with too many legs.

After much wincing and turning of stones, they found this:

It breaks my heart to think from whom Finkmeister may have stolen this.

It breaks my heart to think from whom Finkmeister may have stolen this.

That day, it started raining.

If you live in the Pacific northwest, you know that “rain” this early in the season really means “120% humidity with a chance of puddles”. Catfish worried that there would be no dry place to leave the token for Finkmeister. And, in turn, no dry spot for him to leave his next riddle. I thought that was nice because, even though he’s dueling an imaginary goblin for thieving rights to our house, he still wants to be polite.

Brian suggested they build a small shelter to stash the stone. Maybe Finkmeister will get the idea to leave his note there. In case he still didn’t understand, Catfish left a note:

Poot the note under the oreng thing. PS Don't steal my stick!

Poot the note under the oreng thing. PS Don’t steal my stick!

Riddle solved for the day, Catfish returned to his victory trap, rewriting the laws of physics with every added string until the entire room was a morass of kitchen twine and impossible gravitational pull. Putting him to bed that evening was a treacherous endeavor.

Bright and early the next morning (again, six am) Catfish was alive and straining to get outside to check on the Finkmeister situation. He was not disappointed.

Sooo...Finkmeister can't spell 'could' and yet, he knows what a Thrall is. How is that possible?

Sooo…Finkmeister can’t spell ‘could’ and yet, he knows what a Thrall is. How is that possible?

This one was the hardest yet! The riddle, if there is one, is just a bunch of gibberish about how great Finkmeister is, so how do we solve it?

We read through the whole thing three times. Each time, cutting out more and more lines that clearly had no meaning other than to taunt. In the end, we studied the first two lines:

My last you will never find /It is forever one step, behind.

Catfish pointed out that “It’s probably behind a step. I know where there’s a step!”

That’s how he found the last, and grossest token:

Finkmeister's napped-out hat.

Finkmeister’s napped-out hat.

That hat was so dirty that Catfish insisted I wash it. (I finally figured out that he wanted to  bring it to school the next day and show all the doubting Thomases.) His problem was that in order to win the duel, we needed to leave the token for Finkmesiter that very night.  How could he leave the token, but also be able to take the hat to school the following day?

Easy peasey Lemon Squeezy! We left the laundry pin as the token! It showed that he did actually find the token, but it also allowed for his plans with the hat. It was a good plan.

But, like all well laid plans, it encountered a fatal snag: When Catfish picked up the hat in the morning, it was still too dirty to take to school. (For the record, I did try.)

Finkmeister wasn’t very happy with the jiggery-pokery though. In fact, he wasn’t happy with the way things had turned out at all!

I'm pretty sure he meant 'soap' there.

I’m pretty sure he meant ‘soap’ there.

Flipping the scroll over, we see he is not finished being a jerk…

We beg to differ with you, Fink.

We beg to differ with you, Fink.

What would happen now? The third riddle made mention that Catfish will become rich if he returned all three tokens. Would that happen? How? Did Catfish really win the duel?

All valid questions! But, by the looks of his angry writing, it appears we wouldn’t be getting any useful information out of Finkmeister in the near future.

If only there was someone that could tell us what was going on…


Don’t miss out on the rest of the story!

Part 1: Finkmeister is a Jackass
Part 2: The Overnight Finkmeister Trap
Part 3: A Gentleman’s Duel
Part 4: Riddles Three, a Photo Essay.
Part 5: End Game.