Challenge Accepted.


So, the other day I read a Facebook post from Pittsburgh media personality, Marty Griffin. I think Marty is a great talk show host. He does not tow a party line. He seems to be a man of common sense. His job is to stir the pot and get discussions going. I have no doubt he comes at it from the right place. I believe he sees his function as sparking discussion whether it is an easy or a difficult discussion to have. He is by all accounts a guy that really helps his community with his position and I love how he speaks about his family.

I honestly haven’t listened in a while. I know he riles people up. It’s part of the job. I have heard him say things about food allergies that I considered ignorant, but people are complex and you can’t hold your opinions on them to one single issue. I still follow him on social media.

This was the post;

Message from a friend.
What do you say?

This coronavirus is the strangest virus I’ve ever heard of. It’s very dangerous the way it spreads. It is so mysterious the way it lurks in schools, but then dies at Home Depot. It can wreak havoc in churches; praying people are exceptionally vulnerable! Although it’s Mind-boggling how it vanishes when people stand close together holding signs, destroying businesses, homes, property, monuments, etc. Yet, standing to watch a marathon or a concert triggers its wrath. It is sneaky. It can spread when buying clothes at Kohl’s but not at Target. It is non-alcoholic. It can’t spread when you are buying beer. It lives for two days on Amazon boxes, you must wait 48 hours to touch them but It can’t survive on Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, so enjoying a hot cup of joe is safe. It is the most curious thing, how it lives on basketballs, baseball bats and ballet bars, but dies on WWE ropes and Walmart shopping carts. It is spread by hair stylists, dog groomers, and dentists, but not by bank tellers, cashiers, and fast food workers. It’s so smart. It won’t bother the first 10 people but it knows when the 11th person shows up so be careful if that’s you. It even knows what you want vs what you need. If you want a massage or your nails done it is very actively on the prowl and not even a mask can stop it but If you need a plumber, it is weak, and a mask will keep it away. It also seems to be most dangerous after 5:30pm so businesses must start to close before the virus comes out and wreaks havoc upon the populations. Whoever heard of such a smart sneaky virus?!?😂

~copied, author unknown

It, like many other things I have seen on social media lately, just had me exhausted & exasperated.

I made a comment. Not only should I never read the comments, I should never post a comment. It’s a sickness, I tell you. My comment garnered a request. I am happy to oblige.

Please give examples with proof to back it up.

Rather than rant on FB, and in order collect my thoughts/links, I decided to post it here. I was even going to go to a Spongebob Mocking Text Generator to use that and post the OP sentence by sentence & argue it. But I want to be calm & civil. I want to pass on information that I have read, & maybe explain how I have come to perceive it. I may not be correct. I am not a scientist. I am not a journalist. I am just an asshole that figured out how to set up a WordPress a few years back and posts things for about 3 or 4 people to read occasionally.

None of us know the correct course of action. We could, maybe, use past pandemics as a model. We could, maybe, listen to the advise of experts… from doctors to scientists to statisticians, maybe even teams of the aforementioned. We have been inundated with media (and social media) that contradicts itself every few days.

I believe both the state and federal government failed to take swift decisive action, and they failed miserably to communicate how that action was to be rolled out, or why they made the decisions they did. This is not a political post. Leave your “Trump this” and “Wolfe that” at the door. They both needed to have a quick and concise plan, and that did not happen. I believe that government inaction/incompetence, coupled with the ever-contradicting media rushing to be first to a story (or to sensationalize to garner clicks), and further complicated with the panicked populace using social media as an outlet to voice their fear and frustrations… has built a mounting anxiety of epic proportions.

Proof, or at least validation, as requested for the above paragraph:

That is a long-winded way of putting an explanation behind my perspective. Here we go;

This coronavirus is the strangest virus I’ve ever heard of. It’s very dangerous the way it spreads.

Agreed. Read this article from WebMD: How Does Coronavirus Spread? Boy, we’re off to a good start.

It is so mysterious the way it lurks in schools, but then dies at Home Depot.

Um. It’s in both places, but let’s think about it logically. Did you read the article above about how it spreads? (Or one from the CDC, the WHO, Scientific American, or the Mayo Clinic if you prefer?)

Kids are in school for what? About 6 hours. Most of those kids are on buses to & from. Do you know how close together kids sit on the bus, in classrooms, the cafeteria? Have you ever seen a gym class or a playground? You have to realize its a Petri dish for communicable diseases on a good day, right? Right. Kids, though reminded, aren’t always the best at remembering social distancing or washing their hands.

You are hopefully at Home Depot for about an hour at most. If you need longer than that, ask an associate. They are generally knowledgeable or they can find someone who is. Please be polite though, as this is probably an insurmountably stressful time to be working. Better yet, it’s 2020. Order your stuff online and pickup in store and you’ll be in there 10 minutes tops. Hopefully the adults in the store (remember when they asked 1 person per family & no kids?) are able to remember social distancing (or read the arrows in the aisles or stickers on the floor), wearing masks, adhere to occupancy limits based on keeping customers well-spaced apart, and are good at dutifully washing (or at least sanitizing) their hands.

It’s all about risk. Please see this from the CDC: Deciding to Go Out – Venturing Out? Be Prepared and Stay Safe

This article from KLTV may help: Medical experts rank 36 activities by COVID-19 risk level

Does that make any sense? Going quickly in & out of a place of business while following the social distancing policies recommended by our governor puts you (and everyone you may come into contact with thereafter) at MUCH LESS RISK thank spending all day in close quarters with a large amount of tiny unsanitary people.

If you’re going to say it doesn’t seem to get a hold of children, please see this: ATTENTION PARENTS…. this morning I was notified that Lucas tested positive for COVID (Facebook) …and this: Kids with suspected Covid-related syndrome need immediate attention, doctors say (CNN)

It can wreak havoc in churches; praying people are exceptionally vulnerable!

Gonna go ahead and agree here, although it isn’t the praying that’s worrisome as much as the singing.

Read about how taking deep breaths and singing while packed together tightly is a perfect vehicle in which to spread the virus:

Read multiple accounts of pastors refusing to close churches thus promoting rampant spread:

I don’t even know if I really need to offer my take here. You can find many more examples on Google, and probably even Bing or Yahoo.

Although it’s Mind-boggling how it vanishes when people stand close together holding signs, destroying businesses, homes, property, monuments, etc. Yet, standing to watch a marathon or a concert triggers its wrath. It is sneaky.

What is sneaky here is the slight at the ongoing protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. I won’t get into that here, other than to say a few short things: It’s saying “black lives matter, too.” more than “only black lives matter.” It’s saying “black lives matter now.” Then again, what do I know? I’m a straight white guy who grew up in a sheltered suburb of a still largely segregated city. Listen to 8:46 by Dave Chappelle. If that doesn’t move you emotionally, I don’t know what will. And don’t confuse protesters with rioters and looters. They are diverting attention and skewing the message. Even you, “antifa!” Which by the way, is not an organization or a thing at all, but a philosophy. That philosophy was shred by the United States of America & most of the world when we kicked Hitler’s ass.

Back to the original discussion, and I don’t believe I have to say this. The protests are not organized or sanctioned by your state or local officials. OK, the governor got a great photo op and PR boost, or maybe, just maybe… he valued the ongoing betterment of society over his own personal health & safety? I don’t even know what to say here. No one anywhere gave anyone the OK to protest. The protesters have had enough. They want heard. They want noticed. They want change.

It can spread when buying clothes at Kohl’s but not at Target.

Target sells food and other essential items. Kohl’s does not. What do you need from Kohl’s that you can’t get at Target or Walmart? Don’t say better clothes because in the early stages of the pandemic you were asked to not go anywhere. I don’t think I need to cite a source or proof here. Again, if people were in Target or Walmart wandering around aimlessly instead of shopping “on a mission” to get in and get out as explained above with the case of Home Depot vs. school (and all those links), then that is their own entirely stupid prerogative.

It is non-alcoholic. It can’t spread when you are buying beer.

Actually I believe alcohol kills the virus… so if it was sentient it probably would choose to be non-alcoholic. (That’s washing your hands with it, not drinking it.) If you remember, alcohol sales were shut down entirely, then opened because the government realized that withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism could be deadly. This isn’t a moral debate. Again with risk, getting in & out of the beer store quickly, & your personal feelings on whether it’s a nessecity.

It lives for two days on Amazon boxes, you must wait 48 hours to touch them but It can’t survive on Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, so enjoying a hot cup of joe is safe.

This is where maybe the media is sort-of to blame? They rushed to get the information out. Or was it groups of doctors and scientists publishing studies to quick? Was it the world’s hunger for information? I don’t know. The risk seems to have gone down. Did we wipe-down Amazon boxes or anything else that was delivered at the beginning of the pandemic? You’re damn right we did. Do we now? Not so much, but we discard packaging right away & wash our hands immediately. Why the change? Well, we did this curious thing where we adapted our behaviors based on the best and latest information available. I know that sounds crazy. But it works for us. For some reason, the “experts” as they are, decided that take-out food was low risk. Some still advised to wipe-down and discard packaging. Perhaps the push was because (we can only hope) that food-service employees are trained repeatedly on sanitary practices, so ramping up a bit more to protect them selves and the public may not have been that difficult. Word on the street is that Amazon doesn’t really care about employee health & safety, let alone yours.

I don’t even know how to tie these together:

So, there’s that.

It is the most curious thing, how it lives on basketballs, baseball bats and ballet bars, but dies on WWE ropes and Walmart shopping carts.

It’s not the objects in question, although it can probably live on all of those surfaces… it’s the activity. You are most likely breathing heavily while playing basketball, baseball, or dancing a ballet. Did you read above why that’s bad with choirs? I would guess that also applies here.

The WWE, I believe, is testing all participants involved. Also, they dubiously were classified as essential by the state of Florida. I mean, Florida. I don’t know if I would agree with this, but if they feel they can do it within the guidelines of social distancing and that state is corrupt enough to agree, who am I to stop them?

Yeah. Maybe the WWE doesn’t have the welfare of their people or the general public in mind. I don’t think I would hold them up as a standard-bearer of science, morality, or medical advice.

It is spread by hair stylists, dog groomers, and dentists, but not by bank tellers, cashiers, and fast food workers.

Yes, yes, & yes. No, no, & no.

A hair stylist is in your face for an extended period of time, probably in a ship full of other stylists or barbers in other people’s faces. The dog groomer is all over your dog with their hands… both potentially spreading COVID-19-laced bits of hair airborne. Masks mitigate risk, but not when you aren’t also standing the recommended distance apart. Also, hair stylist work in cash tips. No one wants your filthy cash.

The dentist is literally in your face. That job is disgusting enough without the threat of COVID-19 being spread from patient to dentist or patient to patient. I would say that if the dentist was open, they would handle emergencies & take all of the recommended steps to maintain your safety. I was unaware that dentists were ordered to shut down.

Bank tellers are generally behind a big Plexiglas wall. Most banks were drive-through only for a while anyway, no? Keeping customers apart car-to-car instead of in line in person is half the battle. Cashiers & fast food workers are now behind a big Plexiglas shield. Plus, food is essential, and haircuts are not. I think we covered stores & food already with the requested examples & proof.

As above with us personally lightening up on Amazon packages and the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania going into the green phase, maybe it is time to get back to the stuff. I anticipate a post-Memorial Day & post-protest spike though, so I’m gonna sit back a while.

I will eventually get back to my awesome barber shop, and I sure need it. They will get a big tip and I’ll sanitize the money first.

It won’t bother the first 10 people but it knows when the 11th person shows up so be careful if that’s you.

Social Distancing

Again, it’s all about the exponential spread. There has to be a number to pick. Ten people will spread it to less than eleven. You know how math works, right?

Yes, 10 is an arbitrary number, but there had to be a recommended number.

It even knows what you want vs what you need. If you want a massage or your nails done it is very actively on the prowl and not even a mask can stop it but If you need a plumber, it is weak, and a mask will keep it away.

Facemask/Peeing Meme

What? You want someone, potentially an asymptomatic spreader, putting their hands all over your mostly naked body? Good luck with that. Masks work in conjunction with social distancing. How can we not all agree on that already?

If you need a plumber, it’s probably an emergency. Feces backed up in your house, or a lack of running water may not help with the whole hand-washing thing. If the plumber is willing to come out, it (again) is an acceptable risk. Again… getting a massage or getting your nails done may not be as essential as having a functioning toilet.

Got it?

It also seems to be most dangerous after 5:30pm so businesses must start to close before the virus comes out and wreaks havoc upon the populations.

Aren’t you snarky?

Stores close early or open late to limit their employee’s exposure to the general public (some of whom erroneously believe their liberty is being threatened while they are asked to follow some pretty simple social distancing guidelines for the time being to promote the improved health of everyone), and to give the employees (or contracted specialty cleaning crews) a chance to sanitize the stores from top to bottom before the next day, all without extending the essential workers’ (who are are probably under inordinate amounts of stress) shifts.

A lot of these same stores offer early hours to the most vulnerable groups of the population.

Does that clear that up?

Whoever heard of such a smart sneaky virus?!?😂

By now, we all have. Hopefully, anyway. Although, a lot of us don’t seem to understand it yet, including the experts. Hopefully we get a treatment or a vaccination soon.

Have you heard of it now?

~copied, author unknown

Of course.

But to the commenter on my comment, I hope I did provide enough examples with proof to back things up for you. I hope you weren’t looking for anecdotal evidence. I hope I opened up your mind a bit. Maybe we can learn from each other. I am just looking to keep my family and myself safe during all this. That extends to friends and co-workers and yes, the general public. It would be nice if we could all stick to a plan.

Avoid it like the plague.

What’s it like to be a parent? (a.k.a. The Great Christmas Tree Shenanigans of 2019) 🎄


If you want to know what it’s like to be a parent, let me give you some insight.

Tonight we were putting up the Christmas tree. It is old & the top 3rd didn’t all completely light up last year. I did sort of attempt to fix the problem to no avail. Again this year with a replacement bulb to no avail.

Because the kids were excited, we continued to decorate. About 95% done, I remarked aloud (my mistake?) that we should get a new tree. So, everyone got out of their PJ’s into regular clothes and we ended up going to Home Depot. Excitement was off the charts.

At Home Depot, there were a bunch of great trees for all kinds of price ranges. All four of us finally settled on a tree that we liked. (It’s really cool… pre-lit, and can be all white or different colors!)

Looking for the tree on the shelf, of course they didn’t have one. Neither did any of the other local stores. We bought the floor model for a slight discount but the caveat was that there was no box.

The kids managed to bounce around the store with Christmas Spirit like Will Ferrell in Elf while sort of processing that this was the only tree if we wanted that tree.

Us purchasing the tree from the floor was apparently the most exciting thing we have ever done and we (well, half of us) danced to the checkout with 3 shopping carts in tow… the useless race car one because we can never not get it, and two regular orange carts, one with 2/3 of a tree and one with the remaining 1/3 & stand.

I had wanted to get a rubbermaid tote for it, but the ants in our pants had grown great in their numbers and were humming the chorus to “Ode to Joy.” We checked out and came home with the plan that we could continue the tree decoration process tomorrow.

So of course, once in the house, we promptly assembled & started to decorate the new tree while un-decorating the old tree. Oh the excitement was uncontainable!

Being that garbage collection was pushed back a day due to Thanksgiving, I wanted to put the old tree on the curb.

I told the kids to say goodbye to the old tree and Ian looked like I just told him we were going to skin and eat Butterscotch (our cat) after roasting her over an open flame. Once the crocodile tear rolled down his cheek, it set Molly into big sister sympathy tears mode.

We had talked before about getting a second tree for the dining room because it looks nice in that window from outside.

Guess who is going to try harder to fix that Christmas tree because he is a sucker for recently overjoyed and now crying children?

I’m glad they’re sensitive and sentimental, but wow.

Some of our favorite #ElfOnTheShelf setups this year…


The kids were really into Jovie-Belle, their Elf on the Shelf, this year.  These are a few of my favorites. Post your favorites in the comments! (I have a bunch on Pinterest too… some appropriate, some not at all.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t get crazy creative every night, but the kids really made a big deal about finding her every morning. Maybe next year we’ll get a second elf and have some more fun.

Backyard Race Car Track & …Dinosaur Garden? 🚚🦕


Well.  Damn, you Pinterest.  Ha ha.  We made more progress on the Back Yard Race Car Track.  It may now also be a construction zone, gravel pit, monster truck arena, and dinosaur garden.  Molly even asked about building a volcano.  I do have an extra bag of concrete.

Check out the latest photos.  We added a gravel pit, some large rocks for edging-work to try to contain the gravel, and dug out the grass so we have a dirt pit.  Not sure if I should plant grass and leave a dirt track, or make it all a dirt pit.  I may try to buy some river rock to make the outside edges look a little neater, and mix some more extra sloppy concrete to smooth it over, and fill in the edges smooth.

I bet it will evolve greatly over time.

I’m anxious to see photos of other projects like this.  Show me what you’ve got in the comments!

 

 

🚧 🚧 🚧 👷 👷‍♀️ 🚚 🦕 🚗 🏁 🧚 🌱 🚧 🚧 🚧

🚧 🚗🏁 Backyard Race Car Track & Fairy Garden Construction! 🧚🌱🚧


So, on Labor Day this year, we labored.  We finally got around to pouring cement for the Backyard Race Car Track, and we started a Fairy Garden.

I have been sitting on the race car track idea for a while, and wondering what to do landscape-wise around the one small tree in the back.  We recently got some fairy garden furniture stuff as a gift… so we thought that would be a cool second (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th?) backyard play-space.

I had purchased some Quikrete coloring from Amazon a while ago, and some bags of Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix from Home Depot this Saturday knowing that we had a full day to work today.

We had also started the digging a while ago when Ian was over-zealous and wanted to “Dig, Dig Dig!” in the back yard.

We had an easy enough start, put down some gravel, and mixed two of the three bags of Sand/Topping Mix with the coloring.  I mixed it a little thick, and really what was all the coloring was meant to cover.  The track was only about ‎⅔ of the way complete.  So, I mixed the one other bag we had on hand.  It was a little sloppier and went on really well.  The kids helped in a kid-helping capacity, and Bethany did nearly all of the troweling/finishing work.  Molly told me that she wanted to use the trowel because that’s what “brick builders” use to put the stuff in between bricks.  I have no idea where she learned that.

So.  It was obvious we needed a quick trip back to Home Depot to get some more bags.  Ian & I went on a mission.

I asked the little man if we should get 3, or 4.  He was adamant about getting 4.  We also got the cheapest bag of garden soil, and some pebbles.  Sadly, the bottle of coloring didn’t last long, and maddeningly Home Depot didn’t carry it… even with two shelves full of Quikrete products.  I ended up asking if they had anything in the paint department, and they just had a concrete paint or dye to use after the fact.

We got back and Bethany made us a delicious salad for lunch.  We needed to re-fuel for more work out back!  I mixed 2 more bags, with some help:

After that, we did use just one more bag… but that’s OK.  I can use the rest for some driveway patch work now that I have some more recent practice with this stuff.  (A long time ago, I worked for a bit for a general contractor, and would sometimes mix mortar all day for the subcontracted bricklayers.)

For now, that’s about all we can do.  The bag says it needs to set up for five days.  Hopefully we can be patient and the neighborhood wildlife (including my children) stays out of it.  I did grab an odd old brick from out front that had originally been in the back yard, and made a sort of garage out of it.  I plan to get some river rocks or pebbles or something to kind of clean up the edges of the track.  Maybe they will need to go on with concrete, or some of that stuff that comes in a caulking-gun dispenser.  If they’re not stuck down, they will end up all over and most likely destroy my lawn mower.

The other quick family project was to make a fairy garden.  I was hoping to use stuff that we had around in addition to the recently gifted furniture and starter items.

After thinking about a couple of different ideas, we settled on me taking a chainsaw to some large branches and small logs that we had out back, and driving nails partway into the bottom so we could drive them into the ground and they would hopefully hold.  It worked!

I played with the chainsaw, demonstrated the nail technique, then Bethany and the kids did most of the nail-driving… and I think that was mostly Bethany.  Molly helped me place them around the tree in sort of a kidney bean shape, including an old wooden bucket that I think we bought from the estate sale of the previous owner of this house (who coincidentally said she would miss the little tree in the backyard most of all).

Then we pulled up 90% of the grass, and Ian hauled it away in his wheelbarrow.  We put down the bag of cheap garden soil and it was perfect for coverage & fairy garden decoration placement.  We also planted a small succulent plant that my mom had recently given us in a small pot that should be durable outdoors, but may look cool covered in small round stones so it looks like a fairy house.  We’re putting Grandma on craft duty to help make little projects to decorate the space.  I would love to use some of the stuff we have around the yard or house like tiny terracotta pots, or Popsicle sticks, or wire.

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Is it a #FairyGarden or a #SquirrelPlayground?

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It would be nice to plant some small ornamental succulents, moss, or super tiny flowers eventually too.  Luckily (?) Pinterest is an endless rabbit hole when it comes to fairy garden stuff.  Speaking of rabbits, our backyard is overrun with them as well as squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, and who knows what else.  Think they’ll leave this stuff alone?

At any rate, playing in the dirt has been proven over-and-over to be good for you.  These spaces offer two additional opportunities for the kids to get into the dirt in the back yard.  It’s great to learn about gardening, ecosystems, using your imagination, and more… all without even realizing that you’re learning.

Check out some photos from the day if you have the time and interest, and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

 

If this is something you’d like to try yourself, check out these Pinterest boards for inspiration:

If it’s something you have tried yourself, please share your stuff in the comments!  I would love to see some other backyard family projects.

So, we built a swing set…


It was a fun family project.  We told the kids that birthdays & Easter would be light as we were putting a lot into the swingset.  I’m not sure they understood or cared.  Our moms helped with the purchase, too.  Bethany & I looked online at 6,487,932 swing sets, and narrowed it down to 15 or so in our price range.  I made a spreadsheet to compare them, because OCD or something.  Looking at the roadside swing sets at those places that also sell sheds and rocking chairs, we got a similar product for about ⅓ or ¼ of the price, albeit with no installation.

Installation is expensive, and now we know why.  Ha ha.  Everyone who knew we were getting one gave warning, so we weren’t surprised, but it was an interesting task.

It came in 3 boxes from Walmart.com, and we did in-store pickup because I measured & it all fit nicely in the family vehicle.

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Yay, #swingset!

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It took two weekend days with one week night in between to get it done, but the first weekend day was slowed by the kids “helping,” a move-the-tools-in-because-it-looks-like-rain delay, and maybe even a “let’s undo that part because I put it on backwards” moment.  The week night was hindered by the fact that as soon as I attached the ladder & sliding board, the kids needed to test it out.

Bethany & I enjoyed the kids helping.  We do the Home Depot Kids Workshops so both kids are comfortable with a hammer & a screwdriver, and we have done some other stuff at home like carpet removal and hanging curtain rods where they have actually helped.

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Hard at work!

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Had some "helpers" today, ha ha.

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My mom even got video of the little man showing off his ratchet skills;

We have been at the house for a few years now, but the project this year is another step to getting the back yard to where we want it, and next year we’ll work on the front.  Having some trees removed recently & moving our garden really opened up some space in the back yard.  I’d like to put in a fire ring, and a toy car race-track play area.  I actually proposed removing the Bean House to make room for the latter, but I was vetoed by a 2yo boy saying “Unh-uh, Daddy.  Hoooome.  Hooome.  Daddy, unh-uh.”  I really hope the beans take off this year.  I have some sprouts popping up already.  I have some squash around it too. I don’t think the soil is all that great there though.

I even recently built this Pinterest inspired potting bench…

Back to the swing set, we even got a few extra add-ons from Amazon, like the steering wheel, telescope, telephone, and some handles.  I think I want to replace the kitchen area tarp walls with some chalkboard-painted wood… and eventually when the canopy fades or dry-rots, I’d like to replace it with some type of solid roof.

 

At any rate, I encourage you to tackle a project as a family.  I encourage you to get kids outdoors.  I encourage you to not be afraid to give young kids some tools with a bit of guidance and a lot of supervision.  I encourage you to get them into building, gardening, cooking, and the business of imagination.  I encourage you to try projects yourself, and don’t be afraid to involve the whole family.  It’s amazing how much you can learn through Google, YouTube, and a maybe a few tries.

I think the kids like it…