Dump Truck Giveaway Winner

Last week, I announced that I am giving away the very first Dump Truck that I made.


I just picked the winner at pickatrandom.com, and it’s Lindsay!

So if you are Lindsay, just send your full name and address to me at mamadethem@gmail.com, and I will send you your new dump truck. Enjoy!

Next week I’ll be giving away another new truck, but you’ll have to wait until then to find out what it is, but just to give you a hint, it’s big. 🙂

I found myself at the beginning of this year starting to feel bored making the same things over and over again. I still enjoyed the work, but I wanted to mix it up.

So I’m trying new things, making new toys, learning different ways of cutting. I got a few scroll sawing magazines, and discovered an entirely new way of cutting on a scroll saw. It is so simple, yet it blew me away, and it was exactly what I was looking for to make my own chess set.

I’m planning on buying a router and playing around with that tool as well, which I don’t have much experience with so far. There will be boxes in my future. I’m thinking of personalized hardwood pencil boxes…what do you think?

I have big plans for this year, and I’ll be doing a giveaway for each new item I make.

So stay tuned!



New Toys! Digger and Dump Truck plus Giveaway

Well, I’ve been hard at work in the basement today making new construction vehicles for my wee people: a digger and a dump truck.



The dump truck really dumps…


And the digger swivels on its base and the arm bends up and down.


I’m really excited about them. It’s been a while since I’ve made a new vehicle for my wee people, and construction vehicles have always been my favorite.

The little digger is the perfect size to go with your other wee people vehicles. It’s made of solid cherry wood (except the scoop, which is maple), and finished with my homemade natural beeswax polish. The arm of the digger bends easily at the joints, but is still stiff enough to hold whatever position your child wishes it to be in. The body swivels above the base.

The wee person is a single piece of wood, 3/4″ of an inch in diameter, and about 2 inches tall. The truck is 4 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 2.5 inches tall. The scoop and arm are 7 inches long fully extended.

The dump truck is the perfect size to go with your other wee people vehicles. It’s made of solid cherry wood, and finished with my homemade natural beeswax polish. The dump tips smoothly back to dump its load.

The wee person is 7/8ths of an inch in diameter, and about 2 and a quarter inches tall. The truck is 6 inches long, 3 inches high and 2 inches wide.

These trucks are recommended for kids over the age of three, but obviously, you are a better judge of your child’s maturity than I am.

You can purchase the trucks here separately or together. If you buy the set, you save $4 as opposed to purchasing them individually.

However I am giving away the first dump truck that I made. Normally Caleb gets the practice toy, but he already has a big dump truck, and frankly too many wooden toys all together (the perils of having a toy-making mama). So you may be the lucky one to get the first dump truck I ever made for your wee people village. Just leave a comment below about a new toy you would like to see in my shop, and next Wednesday I will draw a winner.

Today is a New Year

New Year’s Day with it’s accompanying resolutions gets a lot of hype. THIS year will be different. I’m going to focus on my business and my son more, watch TV less, exercise more, etc, etc.

But after a couple of days, weeks, etc, of trying, most resolutions go by the wayside, and we give up until next year. But January first is just an arbitrary marker in time. Every single day can by New Year’s Day.

I had a terrible January-goal-wise (sales-wise it was the best ever). I was unfocused, and behind most of the month. I watched too much, didn’t exercise at all, haven’t gotten anywhere restocking my inventory. The only good thing was that I discovered a new scroll sawing technique that I’m very excited about (more about that in a future post).

But generally the month was a wash. February began with me traveling to my parents’ house for my son’s birthday (which he has been requesting all year). On the first, we had a great little birthday party with some of his friends. The next day was the Super Bowl with another small party. Then yesterday was his real birthday with friends visiting and the family dinner party.

But we can start over any time we want. It doesn’t have to be the first of the month or the year. Instead of giving up on my good intentions, I can just pick up right now.

So what if we’ve barely done Craft Day and Art Day (in our “homeschooling” week) all year to date? We’ll just jump right in. Put it on the calendar. Plan the crafts ahead of time.

So what if I haven’t been to the gym more than once in January? I can always pick it right up when I get home. I can always go for a run around the block. I have time for that much anyway.

Redo your resolutions every time you realize you’ve forgotten about them. Narrow your focus to the top one or two if need be. Better get one habit down this year, than try for 5, and get zero.


Rebecca made a good comment on my last post about games:

There is something to be said, though, about learning to temper one’s competitiveness according to the other person’s nature. There are people with whom I will display much more competitive behavior because they like to play that way, and others with whom I will relax and show very little competition at all. I can remember when I was a kid what a turn-off it was when somebody was too competitive for the group they were in, or—to a lesser degree—not competitive enough. This is still true for me, and I would guess much more so with kids.

I said that playing games with your kids was a good way for them to learn good sportsmanship, but that assumes that the parent displays good sportsmanship herself (or himself). We can all picture parents that don’t, and I’m sure we can picture times that we ourselves haven’t been the best sports that we could be.

My first rule of playing with kids is that it doesn’t matter whether I win or lose. Losing should be accepted in cheerfully. Because honestly, it’s a GAME, it’s supposed to be fun. And that is something I wish I had realized in my basketball playing days. If you put pressure on yourself to win, and beat yourself up when you make a mistake, you DON’T play better, and you miss the point of the game.

This is always so much easier to see in someone else. One of my younger brothers was a great basketball player, but he could take himself out of the game so easily by missing a few shots or making a few dumb plays, because he would get so mad at himself.

We need to model an engaged, competitive spirit in games that doesn’t depend on whether you are winning or losing. Because truly, the fun of the game is playing it to the best of your ability.

…and playing it fairly. I talk to people all the time that mention how when they play some game (Monopoly, etc.) everyone is always cheating. Maybe that’s just the way their family plays the game and it’s all in good fun. But playing a game fairly is pretty high on my list of MUSTS for game playing.

Scrupulous honesty should be observed in keeping score and playing by the rules, even when people aren’t watching, even when you are getting killed by the other players.

When you are playing games with little kids, who don’t have a prayer of winning, you should have a relaxed attitude towards the game. I don’t mean letting them win. From a very young age, Caleb disdained that idea. But if you are playing the alphabet game (trying to find letters on signs in order of the alphabet when you are driving), and you find all the letters as fast as you would if you were playing against your adult brothers, then the game will be over before the kids get a chance to play.

I like the way Rebecca put it: “temper your competitiveness according to the other players’ natures.” That doesn’t mean you have to lose, and it will mean different things to different people. But it’s a good idea to keep in mind.

I believe in playing to win, because I remember after losing to my dad in games for years, when I finally was able to beat him, it really meant something. It was a right of passage.

But in playing to win, it’s important to not vilify the other person/team in our minds. We need to keep a check on ourselves as parents to be a good example and really congratulate the other player/team if we lose. I remember lots of sullen “good-games” uttered after basketball games that I didn’t mean a bit. Practicing empathy with the winners can help us get over the disappointment of losing. And unlike what I thought when I was younger, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to be a loser.

Playing games in a positive, confident frame of mind makes you more likely to play well, and thus win. Worrying about missing/losing/getting yelled at, will only make you play worse.

In snowy south jersey....

In snowy south jersey….

I’ve been stranded away from home due to the weather canceling my bus trip, so the Meet the Tools series has been delayed until I’m able to get home.

Thoughts about Games

I remember on occasion, at school, we would play a game in class that had to do with something we were learning. And for the most part we enjoyed those games, but one day of Jeopardy doesn’t make up for a 50 of rote memorization and boredom.

Games and other enjoyable things should not be seen as a pleasant diversion that may be associated with learning (as long as you are good!), but as an actual method of learning.

I believe that the fact that games are fun makes schools less likely to use them, because learning isn’t supposed to be fun. “You are here to learn not have fun!” I remember many a teacher telling us.

But as Peter Gray so eloquently explains in his book Free to Learn (arguably the best book published on unschooling and learning in general since John Holt was writing or even ever), when you are having fun, when you are in a pleasant, heightened state of mind, that’s when real learning is likely to take place.

If someone is playing a game of their own free will, and engaged perhaps, in some friendly competition, their senses are alert, and they want to learn the things that will help them improve in the game. If a game uses fractions, you are going to learn fractions very quickly to make sure what the other people (who might already know fractions) is really right.

Caleb picks up concepts in games very quickly, concepts I remember being in middle school having to do SUPER boring worksheets on. Once you get the idea, you then practice the concept in a game (or in play, etc) until it’s second nature.

And that practice, since it’s connected with a higher purpose, is enjoyable. I think math has such a bad connotation for people, because Math in school is irritating and boring. But learning how numbers work is just life: figuring out change, sales tax, how long it is going to take us to get the 3 miles home from the store if we’re going 30 mph, how much this toy will cost with our 20% off coupon when it’s already on sale for 25% off the list price.

If no one forced you to figure out word problems and do worksheets full of this stuff (and penalized you for getting the answers wrong), there’s no anxiety involved with figuring those things out. If you are wrong, so what? You’ll know more about how to figure it out next time.

Also in games, even competitive games, everyone helps each other out. You don’t want to win because someone cheated himself out of $1,000 because they added wrong. You want to win fairly (or you should!).

Competitive games get a bad rap from the Waldorf, “crunchy mama” crowd for various reasons, but I disagree about games being harmful.

If you model fairness and good sportsmanship, that gives your kids a good foundation for real life. Competition is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to be a destructive force in the world. It can be a force that brings the best out of us, rather than the worst.

Playing games with your family, seems to me, to be a great place to start learning about friendly competition. You learn that your competitor is not your enemy to be taken down at all costs, because they are people that you love. You learn that playing fairly makes the game more fun.

Thanks for reading my ramblings today, and I’d love to hear what your favorite games are. I think I’ll do one more post about some other games that we like tomorrow, and then I’m going to do a serious of posts about the tools in my workshop.