Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fly Me to the Moon

When I was little and I got sick, there was a very specific formula that my mom could follow to make me feel better.  It didn't ensure my health, but it was guaranteed to put a smile on my face in the midst of the worst cold or flu, and it involved only three things.

The living room sofa, orange ice cream push-ups and the Beverly Cleary classic, "Ramona."

 Happiness, for Cael, is a bit more complicated.  As I mentioned yesterday, "The Incredibles" served to capture Cael's attention while he was too tired and feverish to leave my bed.  But by Sunday afternoon, he had regained just enough energy to resume his typical outrageous requests, and this time there was only one.

"I want you to make a cardboard airplane."

I had been hearing it repeatedly last week since Cael saw a photo of the cardboard train I'd made last year and thought I'd been sufficiently lazy in not recreating another mode of transportation from pressed paper. 

At first I said no, citing "playing nurse" and "doing dishes" as reasons why I was too busy to make his airplane.  But as many of you mothers know, when your baby is sick you want nothing more than to make them happy.

So an airplane, it was.

Joel and I had conveniently cleaned out the garage and basement shortly before, so I had several empty boxes on hand.  I selected the sturdiest one as well as two others to use for parts, and spent a good twenty minutes staring at my equipment and wondering how in the world I was going to make this work.  Because a train car is simply rectangular, I didn't have to alter the boxes very much to make them look like a locomotive.  But an airplane body is more complex, with a pointed nose, and I knew I would end up using math at some point in the operation which made me shiver with fear.

See?  This story works for Halloween, too.

In the afternoon, I slowly but surely crafted the nose of the plane as well as the wings that would be inserted through a slot in the side.  But once the main body was assembled, I had to take a break.  Mainly because I was daunted by the propeller assembly ahead, but also because my butt was asleep.

Eventually, I did make the propeller blades by starting with a series of concentric circles, and then making them slightly oblong like traditional fan blades.  I knew that they would be seriously undersized and not to-scale for the plane, but I also wanted them to actually spin, and in order for that to happen, they wouldn't be able to touch the floor when the plane was on the "tarmac". 

Once I had them shaped properly, I cut them out and covered them with foil tape.  (I think the tape was actually left behind by the previous owners for the purpose of home repair, and with my house's history of poor behavior, I hope I didn't jinx myself by using it all.)  Finally, I secured the blades with a screw and washer from the boys' tool set.

With the propeller in place and a tail fin added for effect, the majority of the work was done.  I knew I would be working on this late into the night because I am such a ridiculous perfectionist, so I let Cael have a sneak peek before I tucked him into bed with a kiss and a syringe full of Triaminic.

Joel came home and surveyed the house, the bags under my eyes and knew immediately that I was involved in some sort of needlessly difficult project and smartly complimented my work before suggesting I give it a rest and get some sleep.  How could I sleep, though, when the airplane had no paint and no control panel?

As quickly as I was able, I covered the boxes in red wrapping paper and used the foil tape to secure it and make some shiny metal-like accents.  I also used one of the remaining pieces of cardboard to draw the control panel, complete with "auto pilot" and "evacuate" buttons, just in case of an urgent little-brother attack.

The next morning, Cael's first words were, "is my airplane done yet?"  I made him wait until after breakfast to test it out, and by that time he was bursting at the seams with excitement. 

"I love it!  It's so cool, Mommy!"

And so it was worth it, after all.  Or so I thought.

"Mommy, you make me a racecar.  And a racetrack.  And a BEAR!"


  1. Very cool! I can make a lot of things, but that looks too complicated for me lol. Major mom points! :-)

  2. Awesome airplane!! Cutting things out of cardboard is a task I loathe. Too bad for me my boys love creating things from cardboard. Glad that Cael is feeling better!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.