Friday, December 26, 2008

Benjamin's First Christmas

Benjamin learns a valuable lesson: Chicks dig cars.

When we found out we were pregnant, we made a vow that we would not spoil our children. They would receive sticks to play with and walk uphill through the snow both ways to go to school. Okay, maybe our vow wasn't quite so draconian, but we did swear to espouse a minimalist approach when it came to giving gifts. That is why we decided that Benjamin would receive only one paltry gift for his first Christmas: (cue Bob Barker voice) A NEW CAR! After reading hundreds of online reviews of a dozen different pedal cars, we settled on a spicy little number by Radio Flyer. Never one to leave well enough alone, I wasn't content to just give the car as-is to Benjamin. I spent the week before Christmas laboriously fitting the plastic tires with hand-sewn rubber treads. I can't claim full credit for this addition: I got this idea from our neighbor Shawn (Nolan's dad), another person incapable of leaving well enough alone. Back in November, he fitted Nolan's pedal car with rubber treads and showed me how I could do the same. In case you're interested, I've included the instructions at the bottom of this post.

Benjamin was lovingly spoiled by his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. On Christmas Eve, we observed the Chan family tradition of eating won ton soup and opening gifts at Vince's parents' house. To everyone's amusement, several of us gave duplicate handmade gifts to one another. Vince's parents got two adorable custom-made wall calendars and two sets of personalized photo mugs, and both Adele and I gave large, framed photo collages and UCLA-themed items as gifts. As they say, great minds think alike!

That evening, we hosted Christmas Eve dinner at our home for our good friends Deb, George, and Mikey. Despite being instructed not to, Deb and George splurged on a their gift to Benjamin by buying him an animatronic rocking horse who whinnied and tossing his head. Benjamin's initial reaction to his new pet was less than enthusiastic, but by the next day, he was grabbing the horsie's mane and trying to climb on.

To round out the Christmas festivities, we had Christmas dinner at Vince's Aunt Delores and Uncle Harry's house. Benjamin got to meet his cousins, aunts, and uncles from that branch of the family tree for the first time, and he seemed to form an instant bond with Uncle Milton. Perhaps because he was having so much fun hanging out with him, Benjamin pooped out before dinner even began and spent the remainder of the evening sleeping on his Daddy's chest. That was fine with me, because that gave me the chance to drink more wine. I mean, eat more food.

All in all, Benjamin had a wonderful first Christmas filled with the most important things in life: family, friends, and fancy cars. And on that note, here are those instructions for tricking out your very own pedal car tires. Much thanks goes to Shawn for helping me out with this project!

MATERIALS: Two bike tires, box cutters, scissors, needle, black thread, two-part quick-set epoxy, aspirin

STEP 1: GET THE TIRES READY. Cut the beading off of each bike tire. The way I did this was by first cutting an opening into the tire with a box cutter and then using regular office shears to cut all the way around right next to the tread.

STEP 2: CUT THE TIRES TO SIZE. First heat the tires in the oven to get them soft and pliable. I baked my tires at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes. This step to the process was my addition. As I said before, I'm not one to leave well enough alone, and that included not leaving Shawn's instructions alone. After the tires are done baking, stretch one of them as tightly as you can around one of the wheels on the pedal car. Measure how much of the tire you use, and then cut the tire about a quarter of an inch shorter than that. Cut around the treads in a point.

STEP 3: SEW THE TIRE ENDS. Using a needle and black thread, sew the two edges of the cut tire length together. I strongly suggest using a thimble for this step. If you don't have a thimble (and I didn't), your thumbs and fingers will pay dearly. When you're done, you should have four tire loop thingys.

STEP 4: ATTACH THE TIRES. Stretch each tire loop over each wheel of the pedal car. This should take some effort on your part and the tire loops should fit pretty snugly. Make sure the treads of each tire loop are centered on the wheel. Finally, use the epoxy to seal both edges and the sewed seam of each tire.

STEP 5 (not pictured): MEDICATE YOURSELF. Take two aspirin for your aching, blistered hands. Pour a glass (or two) of wine if necessary. I'm not saying I did this. It's just a suggestion.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


Catherine (aka Lucy's Mommy) said...

Happy Holidays Benjamin and to his oh so clever mommy!

linkergirl said...

You are such a cool mom and the kids are so funny in their respective hot rods! Love it!