Saturday, May 11, 2013

Homemade PVC Pipe Canons - Tutorial

My six year old wanted a pirate party for his birthday this year, and I decided I wanted to make canons so they could have a real pirate “battle”. I looked around online and couldn’t find a tutorial for anything that was really functional. I found a lot of tutorials for how to make something look like a canon, but nothing that would actually shoot anything.

After scouring the web, I decided to simply make my own. With the help of my lovely sister, Christy (who has an awesome blog over at My Homemaking Experiment), and my physics minor (I knew going to college would come in handy some day!) we figured out the mechanics of the canon we wanted to make, as well as the materials we needed.

With our planning completed I took off to Lowe’s to pick up the PVC pipe. We ended up making five canons, so I bought a 5’ section of 2” PVC pipe and had the guy at Lowe’s cut it into 12” sections for me. Then I bought 1” PVC couplers to use for the inside of the canon (to eject the canon balls from the canon).

Material List: (this is for one canon)
  • 1 ft long 2” PVC pipe
  • 1 1” PVC coupler
  • 2 7” x 1/8” 1/4 lb rubber bands (or any other long, strong rubber band)
  • 2 screw in eyelets
  • 1 6” piece of wood – dowel, tongue depressor, etc
  • string
Tool List:
  • drill (you’ll need a bit the size of your eyelets, and another bigger bit for the holes for the rubberband and string)
  • pliers
  • scissors
  • hacksaw (if you are using a dowel)
Step One
Drill holes with your small bit (the one the size of your eyelets) approximately 1 1/2” from one end of your PVC pipe tube. The holes should be directly on opposite sides of the tube.
Step Two
Screw the eyelets into the holes.
Step Three
Using your larger drill bit, drill four(4) holes in the 1” coupler piece. The holes should be toward the ends of the coupler, and the holes on each end should be directly opposite each other on either side of the coupler.
Step Four
String the rubber bands through the holes on one side of the coupler. To “tie” the rubber bands, simply loop them through the hole, then put one end of the rubber band through itself.
Step Five
Prepare your piece of wood. If you are using a piece of dowel, you will probably need to use a saw to cut notches in the wood at either end of the dowel. If you are using tongue depressors (what we used) then you can probably just cut the notch with scissors. We ended up also hot gluing the string to the sticks, which was kind of a pain, and they keep coming apart. I will be replacing them with dowels.
Step Six
Thread the piece of string through the end of the coupler opposite the rubber bands.
Step Seven
Tie the ends of the string to the ends of the dowel/stick. Your “inside piece” of the canon should look like the photo on the right below.
Step Eight
Use the pliers to open the eyelets slightly. Thread the loose ends of the rubber bands through the eyelets on each side of your PVC tube. Using your pliers, close the eyelets so the rubber bands don’t fall off.
Step Nine
Drop the stick attached to the string through the PVC tube, then follow it with the coupler piece, and then the rubber bands. Follow the photos below:
Then pull the stick out the bottom as shown below. Position the stick perpendicular to the PVC tube.
That’s it! You now have made a PVC pipe canon!
We used plastic golf balls (which I eventually spray painted black) as the canon balls. I also spray painted the canons black as well.

Here is a video demonstrating our finished canon! The kids had a blast with them, and they were pretty cheap to make. Probably a few bucks per canon.

And here is the video of what we actually used the canons for. (the video is double time, they weren't actually shooting the canons that fast - ha!)

If you make this canon, I’d love to see photos or videos of how it worked for you! If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Homemade Happy Meal

My five year old has been bugging me to make homemade kids’ meals for the past week or so. I think it’s because we never buy kids’ meals at the fast food joints – it’s much cheaper for me to just get the 4 piece nuggets and value fry – not to mention I don’t have to worry about them getting some crappy cheap toy. Today I finally had the time to get everything prepared, so we had chicken nugget kids’ meals!

IMG_2641We invited some friends over for lunch after kindergarten and got to work.

I printed out templates for the french fry boxes from this website. The template had two boxes on each page, which was perfect because we did one for french fries, and one for chicken nuggets. I pulled out the crayons and stickers and let the kids decorate their boxes (before they were folded and taped – I figured it would be easier that way).

For the bags we used brown lunch bags and the kids stickered and colored those as well. Decorating their paper goods may have been their favorite part.


While the kids were decorating, I got busy making lunch. I cut a bunch of Russet potatoes into shoestring fries (by hand – you could also use a fancy kitchen gadget). I rinsed them in hot water and IMG_2639dried them off before putting them in the oven. Supposedly that makes them crispier, but you probably have to not use so much oil. Oops.

Chicken nuggets are easy – I cut some chicken breasts into bite sized cube, doused them in some scrambled eggs, and tossed them in a baggie full of flour and seasoned salt. Shake and bake? Then I fried them in a little oil in a frying pan on the stove. you could use a deep fryer, or you could even do them baked styled in the oven (how I usually do them, but since I was doing fries too I figured the stove would be easier).

Once the food was cooked, we loaded up the fry boxes and the bags, I served up some ketchup, we doled out juice boxes, and the kids felt like they were at their favorite fast food joint! IMG_2650


I meant to let the kids pick out some toys or crayons or something for their kids meals. Or books, like Chik-fil-A. Next time.

This may become a tradition (once a month?) because it really was a lot of fun, and it made lunch time that much more enjoyable!

What’s your favorite lunch time tradition?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It’s a Zoo Out There

Or in there. Where? The playroom.

So we tamed the animals and put them in a real zoo.


Well, a zoo made of 1x2’s and dowels.*

Inspired by this $160 zoo that holds way more stuffed animals than I would ever allow our children to own. And ours cost about $20. That’s approximately $140 savings. And Mr Einstein and I got to work on a project together. Which we love doing. Okay, I’ll be honest, which we’re learning to love doing together.

How do you tame the zoo at your house? Do your kids love stuffed animals as much as mine do? Do you have a stuffed animal quota?

* sorry for the lame picture. This picture was showing the aftermath of General Conference in April. I’ll replace it with a better picture of the zoo when I get a chance.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I'm Going Camping

My siblings and I played a word game when we were young called "I'm going camping". The "moderator" would start out by saying "I'm going camping, and I'm bringing ...." and then say something that fit into a category they had chosen. For example, sometimes we went through the letters of the alphabet, sometimes it was big things, or red things, or food item, or things that start with one of your initials, etc. Then the other players would take turns saying, "I'm going camping and I am bringing ... (fill in the blank). Can I come?" If the think you guessed was in the moderator's category, you could come. If not, the answer was no. Kind of like a convoluted game of 20 questions.

On your turn, rather than "bringing something" you could offer up a guess of what the category was. If you guessed correctly, you became the next moderator. It was a great rainy day or in-the-car game.

My kids aren't quite old enough for that game (although V is getting pretty good at abstract thinking games - for example, "Who Am I?/What am I thinking of?" games are some of his favorite).

That doesn't stop us from "camping" on rainy days.

This morning we built a tent in the living room using all the extra sheets.

It took up almost the whole living room.

The three playmates in the "entrance" of the tent.

I left a convenient "mommy-spy" spot by the railing where I can monitor all the action inside the tent. A few seconds after I snapped this picture, these two little guys got into it... I ended up having to remove them from the tent. Ah, children....

Funny thing about awesome tents... They only played in it for about 10 minutes... Then they were off to the bunk bed with their "lassos" (work out bands they had taped loops in).

Gotta love preschoolers.

What do you do with your preschoolers on rainy days?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 29, 2012

On a Golden Springtime

On a day like today who could stay inside?

Food always tastes better at a picnic!

Where are you eating lunch today? Where is your favorite picnic spot? How are you enjoying spring?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pancake Art


I bought a turkey baster at the local thrift store the other day for $.75 so I could make pancake letters. Tonight, V decided he would make us pancake shapes for dinner. He asked everyone what their favorite shape was, and then he proceeded to prepare the pancake batter DSCN6391(with help). He actually did really well “reading” the directions, and by the last ingredient (Eggs) he knew to look in the right column for the amount. I was really impressed with his ability to read a chart and sound out some of the words on the package!

I let him do a few shapes (a triangle, and a star, and a heart) and then I took over and tried my hand at some fancy pancake shapes. I had way too much fun, but the kids got a kick out of it. Our little friend who is staying with us (and is 3 months younger than J) told us his favorite shape for pancakes was “circle” and even when I made airplane, train, and dinosaur pancakes he still opted for a “circle” pancake. I’m not sure he realized what a novelty it is to have pancake art for dinner!



Do you play with your food? Do you let your kids help in the kitchen? What is your favorite “breakfast for dinner”? What is your favorite pancake shape?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Preparing for Sleep Training–or Sleep Training for Newborns

(Note: this post was originally written in April 2009, and is kind of a follow-up to another post I wrote about sleep. Since most “experts” will tell you that it isn’t really possible to sleep train an infant younger than 6 weeks, but I believe that any kind of training starts in the womb – or at least when the baby is born – these are my thoughts on how to “prepare” your baby for sleep training. Just like we have to teach our children how to use the potty, we need to teach them how to sleep. Sure our bodies need sleep, but how many of us really listen to our bodies anyway? We need to teach ourselves and our children how to listen to their bodies and take care of them. Here’s how we taught our #2 how to have good sleep habits)

I think J is finally figuring out the whole day/night thing. She still has her evening "fussy time" as I call it, but yesterday it happened earlier in the day - which means bedtime ends up being earlier! (and I'm hoping it will do the same today!). She's starting to be more alert when she's awake, and sleep less easily during the day (i.e., she doesn't guaranteed fall asleep in the car on the way somewhere. She may nod off, but will wake right back up when we get wherever we're going. Last night she fell asleep at 8:30, stirred around 9:30 (i.e., woke up, sort of) - I was able to soothe her back to sleep without picking her up! She slept until 6am, with a feeding around 2am.

I'm hoping this will continue tonight. So far things are looking okay!
Now, I'm no expert on newborn sleep, but I've been reading a lot about sleep, and looking specifically ways to teach your newborn how to sleep. Unfortunately, because babies aren't usually developed enough to figure out the sleeping thing until after 6 weeks, most sleep books say just that - "Your baby will probably not learn how to sleep well until after 6 weeks, so don't worry about it now." Okay, so they don't say it just like that, but basically, that's what all of them are saying. Most books on sleep training don't even give any practical advice until your baby is around 4 months old. So I have been scouring every bit of reading material for things to do to help your newborn sleep well - because I believe that you can at least do something. Most sources had one or two good ideas, but none of them had enough to give you an arsenal of ways to get your baby to sleep. I think hitting them with everything you've got is usually the best way to go.
First, before I continue - three very important points to convince yourself of. Do whatever it takes to really REALLY believe these three things, and you will save yourself a lot of frustration and tears:
  • Newborn babies are not really sleep-trainable until six weeks after their due date (now, before you get all discouraged, READ ON!)
  • There are some things you can do to try to help your newborn's sleep organization mature a little faster - just don't hang all your hope on it.
  • The term sleeping through the night, for a newborn (i.e. younger than 4 months) is 4-5 hours.
Okay, now that you've got that through your head, here are the things to do to help your newborn sleep through the night earlier (while these things may not necessarily work right now, be assured that they will eventually help - and if you get used to doing them now, you may avoid problems later):
  • Turn on the lights/open the blinds during the day (when the sun is shining), and when the sun goes down, keep the lights low (or off) where your baby is in the house. It's really tempting to keep the lights on in the evenings when you wish your baby would go to sleep, but she's not, so you're up doing things like the dishes, watching a movie, playing on the computer, etc while you wait for baby to decide to go to sleep. I'm not saying doing these things are bad - just try doing them without the lights on (okay, doing the dishes will probably be kind of hard). This will help baby adjust faster to light=daytime, dark=nighttime. Remember, baby just game from 24hr darkness, so the more you can do this, the faster baby will figure out the light/dark thing. I think this is the most effective idea I found.
  • Keep stimulating activities to a minimum after "bedtime." You get to decide what "bedtime" is - Since I would eventually like J to be going to be around 9pm, that is what I call "bedtime." The most surprising thing I found out about stimulating activities is that eye contact is a stimulating activity for babies! Making eye contact with a baby causes their pupils to dilate, raises their heart rate, and all that other crazy stuff. So, no eye contact with baby after the time you want them to fall asleep.
  • Put your baby in his/her bed to sleep. This idea was from The No-Cry Sleep Solution. I didn't have any problem with this, but her experience convinced me that this is pretty important - she always let her baby sleep in her arms during the day, and so her babies wouldn't sleep in their cribs at night since they just wanted to sleep in her arms. So, the best way to get baby to sleep in his/her bed at night is to...? You guessed it - let him/her sleep in his/her bed! So during the day, for naps, make sure your newborn naps in his/her bed.
  • Try to soothe without picking them up after you've laid them down to sleep. It makes sense. Just let them lay in the crib/cosleeper/bassinet/whatever and try to get them to go back to sleep without picking them up. It worked last night for me, I'll let you know if it keeps working.
So, I think for newborns, those are the key ideas. There's not much else you can do for your newborn (and remember, J is only 3 weeks old, so by newborn I mean REALLY newborn). After 6 weeks, basically any sleep book will have good advice for helping your baby develop good sleep habits. Most people don't give advice for how to help your newborn sleep through the night starting from day 1, so this is the list of what I have found that is really newborn sleep advice.
Oh yes, and one more piece of advice - make sure your husband is as convinced as you are of the first three facts (mostly the one that says pretty much no matter what, you can't expect your newborn to sleep through the night until after 6 weeks).
Note: I would add that you need to remember that you should cuddle your baby ALL THE TIME when he/she is awake! Just not at sleep time. Sleep time = sleep time, not cuddle time. I have found that doing a LOT of cuddling when baby is sleepy but not asleep is very effective to getting baby to calm down and go right to sleep. Just try to resist the urge to always be holding your sleeping baby.