HOT: BrickLink Unofficial Lego Market Place… And Lego Taj Mahal!

This may well be the Geek Dad equivalent of the Zara Melbourne opening for women. It’s THAT exciting…. The BrickLink Unofficial Lego Market Place.

The Sets for Sale page is wondrous. I spent a good half an hour surfing through the ads, dreaming about buying all the amazing sets that I couldn’t even dream of being able to afford as a ten year old, but can now totally buy if I want to as a successful professional. It’s like travelling back in time to flick through the old Lego catalogues (did other people do this), but this time with a credit card. Of course I’m only looking for NKOTB…

My highlights?

The 1989 Black Seas Barracuda:

A hippy multi-age class I was in at my primary school had one of these in the classroom. It was torture. I could touch and feel it, but never bring it home to play with by myself!

Another favourite; the 1992 Dungeon Master’s Castle

I used to love the Knights Lego the most when I was a kid. But I never had any castle sets. Instead I had to ‘use my imagination’ and use generic bricks to build castles with mosaic coloured walls. Nowhere near as cool as the “Dungeon Master’s Castle”!

But while pouring over the sets that I coveted from my childhood was fun, the Pièce de résistance was a set made only a few years ago. The largest Lego set ever sold; the Lego Taj Mahal. Measuring over 51cm wide and over 41cm high and including 5,922 pieces, it is truly something to behold:

And at the BrickLink market, you can get it for about half the retail price (about $400 best case which is still pretty wallet hurting, even for grown up Tim).

This time lapse Youtube video suggests that it takes at least 15 hours to build, and I think this would be a fantastic school holidays project for NKOTB when she’s a (much) older. Kind of like a jumbo puzzle, but in 3-D and with a ‘learning is fun’ historical back story. I’m sure any young girl would swoon to hear about Mughalemperor Shah Jahan‘s love of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal and be saddened to learn that Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb then put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort – to live out his life locked in a single room, but still able to look out his window and see the Taj.

She might even like to see a slide show of Dad’s time in India after we finished building it… but now I’m day dreaming ;)

HOT: Recognition

As Joyce recently posted about, she and NKOTB went interstate for four days last weekend while I stayed in Melbourne and caught up on work and house cleaning (I may have found time to go to the pub a couple of times of an evening too).

Despite having so much to do, it was a bit lonely without the family in the house.  It’s amazing how quickly you get into a routine of family life. It leaves a bit of a hole in the schedule.

Anyway, the time apart was a fleeting memory when Joyce and NKOTB arrive home. One of my best moments of fatherhood to date was seeing NKOTB’s face light up in an ear to ear, open mouthed smile of recognition when she first saw me. It was made even more impressive by the fact that it came despite the fact that she would have been over tired from a long plane flight and late night. We had a good fifteen minute cuddle and giggle session before fatigue got the better of her. It was one of those moments that makes you think being a dad is a pretty good thing.

Since then, I think I’ve noticed that she’s been more cuddly and snuggly with me this week too – I wonder whether she’s compensating for lost time, or I’m just imagining things and over compensating myself? :)

Week 20: Out and About

NKOTB’s second interstate trip was this week as she had to accompany me to hold a market stall in Brisbane.

Other than the first night, she behaved quite well. She didn’t really cry on the plane, just a couple of squawks here and there and quickly got into a routine of sorts in the new environment. I think everyone enjoyed the trip – NKOTB discovered a new favourite toy, played fun games in the big bath with mum and the rubber ducky and socialised in the pram with her grandparents.

That first day was a horror though. It seriously made me wonder about the wisdom of making the interstate trip. She woke up at 630am to get ready for the flight and missed her two morning sleeps. When it came time to put her in the portacot for her last sleep she wouldn’t have a bar of it and wailed for almost 90 minutes, which she hasn’t done since she was a newborn. She wouldn’t even suckle for comfort, just cried around the nipple getting increasingly agitated.

In the end I held her in my arms for almost 30 minutes while she slept and considered going to sleep sitting upright for the rest of the night as I was so reluctant to move her.  But my arm lost all circulation and I had to put her down in the portacot, whereupon thankfully she continued sleeping for about 7 hours.

If anyone tells you that kids will sleep better at night if they’re up during the day – don’t believe them! The Maternal Child Health Nurse told me that sleep breeds sleep and I’ve found that to be true – NKOTB sleeps best when she’s not over-tired and over-stimulated.

By the next day she was a perfect angel – sleeping reliably, good-natured and uber-cute. The rest of the time she was fairly easy to manage, though her refusal to drink out of the bottle meant that she had to be delivered to me at the market twice a day for feeds. Fortunately the market was only 10 minutes away by car and I think it helped NKOTB not be too freaked out being able to see me twice a day.

Best of all was when she returned home and when she saw her Dad, gave him a HUGE smile and had lots of giggles with him. Tim said that it was the happiest moment of his week!


Week 19: A happy turn

Yeah! As you can see, NKOTB is actually happy on her tummy these days (though it’s pretty hard to get her to look at the camera). Just goes to show the truth of a little mantra that my Dad taught me ‘everything shall pass’. It’s good to know that NKOTB is progressing in her development.

Other happy moments this week:

– LOTS of smiles when she wakes up. She’ll gurgle to herself for a bit and then when Tim or I finally go to pick her up she gives the biggest crack-my-face-wide-open smile as if to say ‘Oh HI! I’m awake! I love you! Come and pick me up!’

– LOTS of talking to herself, to us, to her toys. We’ve also got a couple of tricks up our sleeve to get her to laugh – tummy raspberries, pretending to growl like a lion, foot tickles and knee kisses. It’s so cute that sometimes I spend a lot of time trying all my moves just get be rewarded with a tinkling giggle.

– She seems to have passed her phase of being scared of strangers too. She’ll stare silently at them but at least won’t burst into tears. We’ll be testing her tolerance for strangers and strange places this weekend when I leave her with my parents while I run a market stall for the two days.

– The  last few nights she’s managed to sleep for longer periods than before, which gives me hope that her 4 month sleep regression is passing and she’s reverting back to her much more parent-friendly sleep routine. I never thought a 5am wakeup would be such a godsend!




HOT: Geek Cake

I really hope that NKOTB grows up to be the kind of girl who would appreciate a “Darth Vader Riding a My Little Pony” Birthday cake…

Via: Know Your Meme

HOT: Lego Winter Toy Shop

Have Joyce and I mentioned before that we love Lego? Yes? Well have we mentioned that we also love European Christmas Markets? Well we do!

So, you can imagine our excitement when we found this Lego Winter Toy Shop set!

While we’ve been relatively disciplined about buying Lego for ourselves NKOTB given that she’s still 12 months away from being ready for Duplo, we decided to make an exception in this case in the name of creating a Watts Christmas tradition.

I’m not sure whether all families did this, but my parents and grandparents used to have a box of Christmas story books that they’d keep hidden during the year and only bring out at the start of December.  Because they were off limits throughout most of the year, they felt extra special when they were brought out of the cupboard. As kids, we knew we could start getting excited about Christmas when we saw the Christmas books.

Anyway, the way I see it, if it works for books, why not for Lego? Why can’t we have a special festive Lego set that we’re only allowed to build during the Christmas season? And if it instils an early love for European Christmas markets, all the better!

So while the box says that the set is for kids 12+, we’ll keep it out of her reach, but make a tradition out of building it together every year so that by the time she’s old enough to build it herself it will be a fully fledged institution.

And anyway, even without the tradition, it’s still a really cool toy. I love the level of detail inside the shop – even including a hirstute storekeeper and his toys for sale :)

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