Why Pa Built the Boat- Guest Post

Today, we are happy to have Jan’s husband, Tom Johnson, share a guest post. He is a wonderful husband, dad, accomplished entertainer, actor, singer, and musician, all around fix-it guy, remodeler, furniture builder, biker, and most of all–his grandkids adore him! You can find out more about the group he performs with here.

When our kids grow up and move to the ends of the earth, we have a wonderful invention now called video chat. I’m sure big businesses and other organizations utilize this tool, but I think it was really created for Grandma and me. Eighteen hundred miles is an expanse that even today doesn’t get breached often enough, so we make up for the time in-between visits with the computer and “Facetime.” (Yes, I’m a Mac guy.)

Last week we were chatting with family and having a great time. The Olympics had been a fun inspiration for Songbird (our Granddaughter in the Big Apple.) We had many chuckles watching her slide, “twizzle” and glide across the apartment floor on our monitor, especially when she stopped and fell on her “tushey” like some of the skaters did. She is so much fun!

The other day during our chat Songbird’s Mommy asked me:

“Pa, Songbird loves her ‘little people’ (Playmobil®), and she often asks me to hold out my hand so she can sit them in my palm. Is there something you can make that they can sit in, like a car or boat, for her to play with?”

I told her that I would love to, and Grandma could bring it out shortly when she comes out for the “birthing.” Oh, yeah, the family tree is expanding!

First, let me tell you what I made, and then I’ll tell you the why.

One scrap of wood, a scrap of paper, four tools, some time and a little paint and fabric and this is what Songbird’s little people get to play in!Little People Wood Sailboat

I simply drew out a boat shape on a piece of old basswood I had laying around. I could have used a 2X4 just as easily. Wood blank for carving boatUsing my band saw, I cut out the basic shape of the boat. Step two was to shape the prow of the boat with the belt sander. Step three was to drill holes in the top of the boat to take out some of the excess wood between the seats.Wood Working Tools The final stage of construction incorporated my Dremel® tool. I bought some sanding drums for another project, and they were perfect for shaping the sides to look like planking and to fashion seating for the toys. (I didn’t want the “Little People” falling off their benches, so I indented where their their little “tusheys”  would fit.)Carved Boat A little hand sanding smoothed out any rough edges and then on to the sails. A 3/16 dowel became the mast and the yardarm, and a little string glued to the ends gave Grandma something to attach the sails to.Making mast and sails

Speaking of Grandma, she added some great finishing touches to the boat by painting and rigging the sails.Paintng the boat

So here’s the finished project. One boat for Songbird’s little friends to have fun adventures on the oceans of her imagination!Sailboat-1

That’s the how, but more importantly is the why.

My daughter also said in that conversation:

“I could go online and buy something, but I don’t want just another toy for her.”

I went online and found a great Playmobil® boat with 55 pieces for $20 plus shipping. It had so much detail with all the little pieces, even a shooting cannon! But then I smiled and closed the search window.

Yes, I could buy her the boat and she would have it to play with amongst all her other toys. But then, it would be just one of her other toys.Sailboat-2

The magic that makes a toy more than just a toy, a sweater more than just a sweater, or a gift more than just a gift is the time and love you put into making it. In an era of microwave and online ordering, there is a growing number of people that are appreciating creativity over expedience. There is an old saying that our life is but a mere vapor and then it’s gone. What a wonderful thing to be able to give part of that “vapor” to a spouse, a child, a grandchild, a friend. Hone your talents and then create treasures that will transcend the generations. If you’re too busy “making money” to be able to make a memory for someone, then you are too busy.

But I’m probably preaching to the choir…Birch To Go Sailboat

So, Songbird’s little boat, aptly named “Birch To Go” for the famly business, isn’t as accessorized as the store bought boat, but then when she gives it to one of her children, probably after I’m on the Other Side singing with the angels, she can proudly say, “Pa, made that for me when I was your age!” Sailboat-3Brings me a smile just thinking about it.Sailboat-4

 


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