Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Our friend Melissa invited us to join her down at Zilker Park last Friday to join her in a kite party in honor of her birthday. (She is one of those rare individuals who seems to be able to seamlessly integrate friends from work, school, home and church. I, on the other hand, feel as though I live in separate, disjointed worlds...) So I took that as an excuse to do what I haven't done since Jr. High but have thought of doing several times: I made kites for/with my kids.
It started with a trip to Hobby Lobby (my wife finds these 40% off coupons that make this possible) on the bikes with Uncle Allen to go pick out fabric. We returned home with dowels, nylon thread, and 3 yards of nylon rip-stop fabric.
Next I had the kids draw shapes on paper for patterns that they wanted to put onto their kites. Eliza, 4 yrs old and an aspiring princess, chose a heart and a star, which star was cut to shreds by the participation of of 2 yr old Caroline. Ian, 7 and a huge fan of Lego Exo-Force, drew impossibly detailed Squid-Ammo and Cordak Missiles. The end result was pretty much a rectangle with details drawn in by hand. =)
In any case, I had imagined that it would be pretty quick to throw together a couple of delta kites, and all things considered, it wasn't that bad, but I ended up putting in a couple of late nights with the sewing machine. (Who says sewing is for girls?! What an awesome mechanical gadget a sewing machine is. This is Man Stuff!) I tried out two different approaches for the kites, one using sleeves to hold the dowels in place and the other using pockets. The sleeve kite looks better, flies better, and was only slightly harder to make. I recommend that method to any other aspiring kite makers. (Here is an interesting link to a NASA program that aids in the design and trimming of kites of several different designs. Not necessary to get one to fly, but interesting nerd-fodder nonetheless.)
Our camera is currently on the blink, and I think I have about a 50% chance of a successful repair when I can make an hour or so for it at school. There is an ancient backup camera, but I'm not sure where the card reader for it is, so you're going to have to wait a few days for photos of the kites. I promise I'll post as soon as I can come by some photos, though. Then I'll be able to show how they were built, etc.
So now on to the touchy-feely part. I have to say it was one of my life's greater satisfactions to go fly kites that I built together with my kids. Once we had a little bit of a breeze under hers, Eliza went tearing off across the field with string in hand. Her concept of flying a kite requires running with it, and I suppose that's much more exciting than just standing still with your neck craned to the sky. Ian's kite took a little more work and a long tail to get and remain aloft, but once in the air it stayed there quite stably. His concept of flying a kite involves chasing after his sister so that he can cross the strings and bring both kites crashing to the ground. If I had been able to relax and laugh about this it would have actually been pretty funny, but after all the hard work of getting them in the air... Ah well, nothing like kite flying to shine light on my lack of perspective.
All in all, this was a great way to connect with the kids. The deal was totally sealed when Eliza asked me yesterday, "Daddy, when can we go fly my kite again, just you and me?" Who can turn down that request? I think we're going this afternoon, in fact.


Jenny said...

We love to fly kites, but haven't made our own in a while...thanks for the idea. :)

Hannah said...

Yes, it was such a great project and a fun time! Wishing so hard for pictures, and trusting in your camera-fixing abilities. ;-) Thanks for recording this for posterity.