Apprentice Santa's Elf

A little girl two houses down saw an unusual doll house on one of our trips to a hobby/craft shop a few months ago. It was a four story "tree house", with pulleys and winches to get stuff from the first floor to the top floor, ladders, a crows nest on the top and various beds and other pieces of furniture, along with six wooden dolls, grandpa, grandma, mom. dad, son and daughter. It was all wood, ply floors and dowels for trees, railing etc.. She was really fascinated by the thing and did the "I sure wish I had one of these." things kids do twenty times in each trip to any store that has anything that remotely could be a toy.
I checked the price, in the $125 dollar range, and told her that was a lot of money for some plywood and some dowels. She did her pouting look and then raced down the aisle to see what other neat things she could find, and perhaps persuade me to get her - and her older sister. Kids will gang up on you you know.
Well time went by and Christmas approaches. The little girl has that tree house doll house on the top of her Christmas list. So the mom takes her out to the hobby/ craft store to see what it is she has in mind. Naturally the price tag rules it out, they have been having some tough financial times and money's kind of tight.
While hanging out in the shop her older sister mentions that the tree house her sister really, really, really wants for Christmas won't be under the tree this year."I bet you could make one .. . one of these days. You can make anything out of wood." she said, making sure the hook was set good.
And that began my apprenticeship as an elf.
The "older" sister (9) and I made a run to the hobby/craft store, with paper, pencil and a pad of paper. Needless to say, a store employee wasn't too thrilled about us measuring one of their more expensive toys. To pacify him we bought the six dolls for the tree house - I'd need them for scaling things anyway.
So now, after three full days of shop time, a half sheet of baltic birch ply, 20 or 30 feet of various size dowels, every flat surface above the ground covered in tools, parts, scraps of ply, a pile of dowel cutoffs and an assortment of clamps, the four foot tall, two foot wide, sixteen inch deep tree house rises above the clutter. Bug spitted (shellaced) wood catches the light, the carved dowel "trunk" looks sort of like a tree trunk and the little beds, one a bunk bed for the kids, the table and some chairs are making it look rather homey. One crows nest to make, the branches and leaves to put on and it'll be done.
This one was definitely not like making furniture but just as challenging and even more fun. Christmas eve or morning is going to be very interesting.
If you get the opportunity, I higly recomend having a go at being one of Santa's elves. The hourly wage is in units you can't get at a bank and the interest on the investment in time will certainly beat The Market or any bank.
Every day we have the opportunity to create memories. This one's going to be one of my fonder memories and hopefully one of a little girl's fond memories long after I'm gone.
charlie b
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You did good Charlie, we all have the opportunities but sometimes we just don't see them. Merry Christmas.
-- John, in Minnesota
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My 11 year old son took an interest in the game of chess and made it into a passion. As soon as he is done with his homework he is at the computer playing against it, or studying moves from a book. I much prefer that to time on a video game.
So this Christmas I put together a chessboard made from 1/4" thick squares cut from some teak I bought on ebay glued to MDF backing board, alternating grain and light and dark pieces.
After buying some conventional chessmen I decided to see if I could put an old lathe to use and make some of my own. I got double the enjoyment when my son asked if he could learn about what I was doing. He helped me turn some one inch stock of poplar into rods, at which time he asked if he had done enough. Little did he know he helped make his chessmen.
I anticipate this Christmas morning as you do, the smiles, the hugs, and the "oh cool" will be my payment.
Now to finish the Paduak box I'm making for my Daughter.
Dave
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I am interested in why you prefer you 11 year old son to play chess on the computer, or to study moves from a book, than time on a video game.
Bob McBreen
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I would guess it depends on his definition of video game. IMHO, chess would be infinitely preferable to crap like GTA, or first person shooters. The kid is 11, this is the time when parts of the neuroanatomy related to judgment and moral decisions is being finished. This is not a developmental stage that can be re-done -- you only get one chance. Chess is a game that relies on and fosters the development of judgement. Video games by and large tend to be at best amoral.
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and so it will........ Merry Christmas Charlie,
Bob S.

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Sounds Like a Master Card Commercial to me... Priceless

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Charlie I for one would love to get a follow-up report after Christmas on the little girl's reaction, expression etc. I bet this will be a Christmas both you and she remember for a long long time. Great job. Woodpecker

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Now that's cool!!
Rob
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What a wonderful story.
I'd love to see a post-Christmas photo of the project and its owner on abpw
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John Carlson wrote: snip

Most of the pictures I've taken of her are blurred. This kid doesn't stay still for a moment when a camera is aimed her way. Maybe she'll be so tired waiting up for Santa that she'll slow down enough to be visible, if only for a moment or two.
The Dynamic Duo are in the thrid image on this page. The recipient of the tree house is in the foreground. If her sister didn't have a firm grip on her I assure you she'd be blurred in the picture.
www.wood-workers.com/users/charlieb/!M&T/CBbench20.html
charlie b
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