Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Episode Twenty Four: Rakau Kanikani

The other weekend our family went to the Gypsy Fair which was visiting town. Amongst all the stalls was a stand that was selling 'Devil Stick's. I have never really been a fan of the term Devil Stick as it makes zero sense to me. Either way, my boys asked me if I knew how to use them and it turns out I did because we used to make them when I was little. Here's how:

For this idea you will need some bamboo (you will need probably need a couple of metres - if you can get it all the same sort of width/thickness that would be ideal), old car tyre tubes, insulation tape, a staple gun, scissors, a hand saw and a hammer.

You will need to cut three lengths of bamboo. The two 'handle' sticks, about 400mm in length and similar widths (as demonstrated above) and the 'dancing' stick which should be thicker if possible and about 500mm. Using a saw or loppers or whatever tool suits, cut off and spurs which are sticking out. You want to have a pretty smooth surface but still allowing for the natural shape of the bamboo with it's nodes. With the dancing stick, you can decorate it with the insulation tape. Near the middle of the stick get your kids to choose what colours they want to wrap around it for decoration.

The next job is a bit of a bugger but it has to be done. Cut your tyre tube width ways; either side of the valve is best as you can't use the valve or surrounding parts. Then cut off two widths at 100mm wide and put them aside for later. Then start cutting your tube into strips lengthwise about half an inch wide (sorry to go from metric to imperial measurements). This is time consuming and each strip needs to be as long and as straight as possible. You're going to be pulling on these strips so any nicks or cuts won't do.

Next up you want to get a handle stick and staple the beginning of a strip of tyre tube to the top of it (you may need to hammer in the staple if the rubber is particularly thick) and wrap the rubber around itself once before wrapping it down the length of the stick in a diagonal pattern. Your dancing stick will grip on to the rubber on the handles and it will be a lot more effective if you're able to overlap the rubber on itself a little - about 5mm. Once you have wrapped it all the way down to the other end of the stick, staple it to the bamboo, wrap it around itself, staple again and cut off any excess. If your length of rubber is too short to reach the end? No dramas - just staple the end of the first length to the beginning of another length and keep wrapping it around the handle. Repeat the process for the other handle.

For the 'dancing' stick you want to do a similar thing but first we are going to use the widths of rubber we put aside earlier. Cut each one in half width ways and (as modelled above) make incisions about half an inch width-ways but don't cut all the way through - making a fringe type thingy-ma-jig. You'll need two of these to wrap around either end of the dancing stick. Staple the uncut (or in tact) portion of the rubber on to the end of the bamboo: these almost act as fingers which grab on to the handles and keep the dancing stick in the air for longer (check out the picture below to see what I'm going on about). Once you've stapled the two frilly parts to either end start wrapping another strip of rubber down the length of the bamboo. This time, instead of overlapping the rubber, leave a gap about 5mm thick and as you reach the middle of the stick you can increase the gap to 10mm so that you can see the colours of the insulation tape - then decrease to 5mm until you reach the other end of the bamboo.

Once all that is done - you're finished! It's pretty late as I'm writing this and I'm reading back on it really wondering if any of it makes sense at all. I hope it does. If not, I'm sure there are thousands of tutorials online that may explain it better or you can ask for help in the comment section or on our Facebook page. Now what? You have this set of rakau kanikani (or dancing sticks) and now you need to learn how to use them. Here is a tutorial for your convenience:

What did we learn? First of all I learnt to move my hand out of the way when I'm sawing and not cut my finger (the hard way). Secondly I learnt that tyre shops don't have so many tyre tubes hanging around these days. My children also learnt the value of team work and following instructions. However, the biggest take away lesson we got from this idea is that it's very hard to pick up something like a dancing stick or juggling balls and be good at it first go. This is super frustrating but a good lesson to learn. Things like these take time to learn and years to master. 

Have Fun!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Episode Twenty Three: Be Their Biggest Fan

I feel like I'm back in the swing of things now - I had a couple of weeks off from the site. I jumped head-first into this project and although it's been a great journey so far, sometimes it feels like my parenting is for the purpose and benefit of the blog. What I really want is for the blog to benefit from the parenting I already do. Does that make sense? So for those two weeks I parented for my children and not the audience I have through this site. Thank you for sticking with me and supporting Ideas For Dads. It's been a very cool journey for my children and myself so far.

The other night my middle boy had a fundraiser for his kindergarten - a bike-a-thon! The idea was that the kids biked around a track at one of the local schools and got sponsorship for their efforts. We filled up the form with sponsors and pledges and the excitement grew throughout the week. It's hard work being the middle child, I imagine. This felt like it was an event that was finally all his. Not a big brother's Cubs camp, not a little sister's first birthday but his very own event where the sole focus was on him.

After work on a cloudy, breezy day we rolled up to the school field with the rest of the bikers, families and support crew and got ourselves sorted. Before coming home from work I made up a few signs of encouragement to surprise him. The grandparents came along and joined us in cheering him on. There was no stopping him! He took off around the track before the event started and clocked his first lap. From there on in he was like a bat out of hell peddling around the track. 

The whole way around the track he had his head down, focused on the task. His concentration was absolute. I tried to get him to have a rest but he wouldn't have a bar of it. He was determined to get in those laps and earn the money for his kindergarten. It was an incredible thing to watch. However, as he passed his station of supporters he beamed from ear-to-ear. We would yell and clap our hands while he would smile and almost laugh but keep on peddling. He ended up doing seven laps!

Being a Dad, being a caregiver of any kind takes a lot of cheer-leading. Sometimes it's building your child up before they go out the door to face another day of school they don't enjoy. Sometimes it's convincing them they can do that really scary thing they have told themselves they couldn't possibly do. Other times it's very literal like what we did with my middle boy - or going to a school assembly and yelling and cheering while they receive a certificate. Who doesn't want to hear the roar of the crowd as they accomplish something? It's an amazing experience. That is a gift that really goes both ways: To see your children achieve something remarkable is a powerful experience. Just like them having you there watching it - witnessing their skill, their strengths is priceless.

Over the last two weeks I took off I really looked at the aim of this project. I know what I'm offering to you, the reader. I know what I'm hoping to add to other Dad's lives - that's pretty much spelt out very clearly now. The question I faced was what did I want my own children to get out of this website? If you get right down to it, all I want to give my children are great memories: I want to do things with them that they might not recall exactly as they get older but they can know with certainty that I was there, I was 100% in the moment with them and I showed them that they can do anything.

Being their biggest fan is one of the best ways you can do all of those things.

Have fun!

(Also, I would like to thank my wife for taking such awesome photos which have made the the last twenty three ideas look incredible. Thank you!)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Episode Twenty Two: The Tasting Game

This is a game that I used to play with my sister when we were younger. I don't know how it started or what crazy book or magazine we read it in, but it was a huge hit. This is 'The Tasting Game'. 

It works like this: one person is blindfolded while the other people feed them different edible items. If the blindfolded person can guess what the food is, they get a point! We usually play four turns per person, so whoever guesses the most out of four is the winner. Easy.

On the face of it this game looks like a game of skill, a game of who has the best sense of taste - but it's not. It is a game about trust. It is a great team-building exercise for warring siblings, of which I have two.

If everyone takes part, then chances are you will be the one on the receiving end of whatever weird and wonderful food your family give you. If you give your little brother a teaspoon of Baking Soda, what might you receive in return? This game is Instant Karma in motion.

To keep things fair and enjoyable I usually try and steer things in a yum, yuck, yum, yum pattern. For four turns you have at least one gross food to taste and three nice ones. It keeps it fun and will reign in unruly brothers and sisters who just want to feed their siblings cocoa powder, salt and avocado.

At the moment in our house there is a lot of talking about treating others how you wish to be treated. A lot. So this game has been quite a helpful tool. What was interesting was our eldest boy who is struggling with treating his brother as an equal was terrified of playing this game. Maybe a weeks worth of bossing his brother around was going to come back to haunt him. With a bit of coaching we were about to keep the middle boy within the rules of the game - but it was a real awakening for both of them.

As I was instigating the foods to be tasted, I had to have a go. I was petrified but luckily Mum was there to save me from who knows what. I had sugar, a gross jam I usually refuse to eat, chocolate chips and an ice cube. Not so bad!

Have fun!