Around here, whenever you take your kids in for any sort of appointment — doctor checkups, WIC, etc. — you get BABE coupons. These are good for all sorts of things; you can get a dozen diapers for one coupon, or children's snow boots for two. This year, we also got a letter with free tickets to the Festival of Trees, which is an annual fundraiser where people sponsor and decorate about a hundred trees for charity. You voted with your cash (a penny per vote) for the best trees; I presume there was some sort of prize for the contestants. You could also sign up to win one of the trees. So, a few weeks ago, we walked over — it was scarcely off our block — and took in the displays. The variety and creativity were wonderful. They had other things for the kids, too, like rides on a miniature train, crafts, and a live reindeer.
A week later, we got a call saying that we'd won one of the trees! No one knew which one yet, but they asked some questions about the kids' age and interests, and said they'd pick one out.
We got the Little House on the Prairie themed tree, complete with Lincoln Log cabins, and covered with farm animals and plastic period-piece people planting, hitching up wagons, hunting, etc. There were also gifts to go with it: Little House on the Prairie picture books, boots in the correct size for each kid, some drag-racing trucks for Aiden, and a hopping-frog setup for Fiona.
There were, also, the leftover Lincoln Logs in a big Ziploc bag. The cabins under the tree had been strung together with fishing line to keep them together until their decorative usefulness was over, but the rest of the logs were available for playing. Incidentally, these weren't the American Lincoln Logs, but a Chinese copy, which are still made of real wood and, in the case of the little chimneys, decorated by hand. Someone in China has the job of drawing a stone pattern on little wooden chimneys.
Paul, in typical fashion, set to figuring out what was the tallest possible structure that could be made with the available logs:
Aiden, also in typical fashion, knew exactly what to do with that.