Playing with our kids has given us the opportunity to flex our long-unused technical theater skills. For the last few years, Betsy has created miniature sets for the kids' birthday parties - a swamp hut for a Shrek party, an Arabian palace for an Aladdin theme, etc. In January 2007, Nia wanted a Tinkerbell party and Sophie favored the Little Mermaid, so Betsy decided to build a ship in our living room, figuring it would serve for both events. Originally, it was going to be made out of cardboard boxes, but while doing preliminary sketches on graph paper, we had this exchange:
Shep: Well, so the kids don't fall off it.
Betsy: Off it? They can’t get on it. It's made of cardboard!
Shep: You can't build a quarterdeck and not let them climb on it!
This was how a cardboard ship morphed into a two-story 19-foot-long wooden pirate galleon with a ship's wheel, captain’s quarters, and a cargo hold.
Update: After two years of service (multiple kid parties, traveling for other functions, but mostly taking up an enormous amount of space in our garage attic) the ship finally has a permanent home. It now lives at the Kid View preschool at St. Peter's Church in Glenside, PA. It lives in the center of the school library where it is enjoyed daily by kids as they find a nook and curl up with their book. We couldn't have hoped for a better home.