Category Archives: Frugal fun

Kai started work on a doll house (for his peg people)

After seeing one that somebody else made (protecting privacy by not mentioning who because it just occurred to me that I haven’t asked!), Kai has been wanting to make a doll house for his peg people for a week or two now. He’s been trying to find good cardboard to use and try to figure out what to make, how to make it, etc.

Finally, after a trip to Costco, he had a box he wanted to use. He got to work.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

He got frustrated by tape.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

Then, he started to get the hang of things.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

He decided to add a garage and was very overjoyed with the results.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

Parker-cat was less thrilled. He wanted the box for sitting.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

The bendy dolls move in.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

They came via car, by the way.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

“The peg people family collect cars and have their own airplane.” – Kai

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

Then, while I was doing dishes, he made a bookshelf.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

And had a massive use of tape. I think he was trying to build a roof.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

Eventually, he dug out some of my stencils and started decorating the box.

Kai, working on his doll house for his peg people

I don’t think he’s done. We need to find more cardboard to make the “floors” more stable. And he talked about building furniture after was done. I’ve also offered up scrapbooking paper I used to use for art purposes for him to use as wallpaper, flooring, etc. I’m not sure if he’s going to use them or not. That is, however, where he found the stencils.

I also made a Pinterest board of “DIY Doll Houses” to let him look at pictures for inspiration. If you’re interested, you can find it here.

The value of a three dollar toy.

The other day, Kai bought a little toy called, “Army Men vs Cave Men” from the “novelty toy” section. He paid three dollars from his allowance ($1.50, if you count the two for one coupon he used so he could get something else, too). There are fifteen of each.

I mentioned that I didn’t know that it was a good value but, that, of course, it was up to him. Kai bought them anyway.

After getting them home, one of Kai’s first observations was that they didn’t have hexagon-shaped bases and that he found that frustrating. Most of the miniature games he has seen or played have hexagon-shaped bases. Once he got past that, though, he found all sorts of ways to use them.

December 31, 2013

Every day, multiple times each day, he has staged mock battles.

Yesterday, he was pretending that the soldiers and cave men were Storm Troopers, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the Rebels.

December 31, 2013

Today, there were the army men versus the cave men. He also used penguins to make “fighter penguins”. He said, “These are my fighter penguins. They’re bursting in. War has a lot of bursting in.” Indeed.

"These are my fighter penguins."

It’s funny, because I never would have thought these toys would have such long-lasting appeal. Certainly not something from the “novelty section” –  toys, I typically think of as “junk”. We work pretty hard to find “good toys” that he’ll enjoy. Sometimes, though, I think maybe we work too hard, try to find the “perfect thing”. I mean, we’re usually very successful but I can’t help thinking that part of why Kai has done so much with these is that his preconceived notions were blown to smithereens, that the imperfections freed him to do it “his way”.

Or maybe it’s just that he used his own money for these? I don’t know. But I’m enjoying watching the mock battles, enjoying hearing his thinking and line of reasoning on things. I’m enjoying this three dollar toy way more than I ever thought I could.

Turns out, the three dollar toy has a lot of value after all. It isn’t how much it costs, it’s what you do with it that creates real value.

Poetry Teatime. August 29, 2013.

Last Thursday, Kai asked if we could include Daddy in “Poetry Teatime”. Daddy was agreeable.

So Kai helped me taste the cookie dough make cookies.

Poetry Tea Time

And decorate the cookies.

Poetry Tea Time

We covered the table with our slightly fancy sheet “pretty tablecloth” and set places for everyone. We had the cookies and “Russian Tea“.

Poetry Tea Time

Then, we all took turns reading poems. Kai read the most. But we grown-ups read some.

Poetry Tea Time

Poetry Tea Time is something we learned about on the Brave Writer website. Traditionally, they do them on Tuesdays. That doesn’t work for us… our homeschool group has Park Days on Tuesday. So, we’ve done them a couple of times, mainly sporadically. I’m thinking, though, of having this be a regular Thursday thing – maybe sometimes with Daddy and sometimes without.

Kai was particularly enjoying a poem from a book called “BookSpeak!” that was about the beginning/middle/end of stories. He also read “Hippopotamus Stew“.

It’s quite enjoyable to sit down to some fun treats and a nice drink and just relax.

We’ve Been Doing More Parks

We’ve been trying to do more parks this month. Kai has had a sudden burst of running around and jumping in the apartment and we’re trying to get his excess energy out. It also gives him a chance to play with other kids. Plus, he LOVES parks. We’re a little more than halfway through the month and we’ve been to four so far:

Discovery Park:

Discovery Park

Discovery Park

David Rogers Park (this one was Joe’s idea – we did this on a weekend with him):

It is a troll bridge. He's the troll.

David Rogers Park

Big Howe:

Big Howe (Park)

Big Howe (Park)

Golden Gardens:

Golden Gardens

Golden Gardens

Seattle’s got some BEAUTIFUL parks. It can be a challenge for us to get to them during winter, though, because Kai hates getting wet and, for some reason, most of the parks here seem to not have any rain protection.

Do you have any favorite parks? Kai seemed to love Golden Gardens and asked to go back. The play area there is fairly new – the last time I was there, a few years ago, the play area wasn’t like this. Come to think of it, I don’t know if they even had one!

I got a small sunburn at Golden Gardens! Really ridiculous – it’s MARCH and we were only there for an hour. Maybe an hour and a half. The dangers of being a redhead, I swear. Anyway, I need to get better with putting on sunblock on myself.

How often do you get out to a park? I wonder if it’s a resource more used in the city, since a lot of us don’t have backyards.

Cool Pants.


During the Superbowl, I made this on one of Kai’s pairs of jeans. He wasn’t home, but when he finally did see them he said Kai. “Aah! I LOVE rockets! And everyone will see them and say ‘Cool pants.'”

I’m glad.

Because all I see is “error there, error there, error there”. But I haven’t embroidered in a few years. It was… enjoyable. (Frustrating at times, yes, but enjoyable.) And I’m thinking of doing it again soon.

Vortex cannon!

I was looking through some of our older videos and pictures and came across this. We did this back in March and had SO MUCH FUN. All you really need is some tape and a box. The plastic cups were so much fun to knock over. I think Kai was eventually able to do it himself. He also liked being “shot” with the cannon.

Find out how to make your own on