Watch Out, Kobayashi
53 Hours

This Damned House

(I wrote -- and intended to publish -- this entry on Friday, but Vimeo was taking FOREVER to do whatever technogidgetgabble it does to videos and I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for it and then I got bored and decided to bump this post to today. Which is why I am not bitching about HAVING NO POWER AGAIN, thanks to a fucking TORNADO, like WHAT THE HELL, first a tiny earthquake and now a tornado and I swear to God, there better not be a mildly-inconveniencing volcano next week that like, singes and ruins everybody's hair before BlogHer or something gaaaaah.)

A couple months ago, in a burst of GREATEST MOTHER EVER-fueled delusion, I came across this printable craft thing on Disney's website: a 3D paper version of the house from UP

Why would this particular papercraft make me the GREATEST MOTHER EVER? Oh. Oh ho ho ho.

Exhibit A:

So yeah. Noah kind of loves the house from UP. He adores it. He builds version after version out of Legos and Duplos and one day we came home from camp to find that the babysitter had cut his peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich into the shape of a house, complete with a little door and chimney, and Noah screamed like it was the Virgin Mary appearing in a bowl of tomato soup. 

Of course, the house from UP is not available in a handy and overpriced plastic version. (You know I checked. A lot.) This little cardboard cut-out version was the closest thing I'd ever seen to an actual, playable house-from-UP toy. And all I needed was a printer!

And...well, some cardstock. Where the hell do you buy cardstock? What is cardstock? Do they sell it at Target? Do I have to go to a craft store? 

(Note: The last time I went to the craft store was when I was in search of a large decorative jingle bell and leather ribbon that sort-of resembled the one in Polar Express, because if there is an obscure prop from a not-widely merchandised children's movie you can bet fine cash money that my child will become completely, utterly obsessed with it.)

But I found and purchased some cardstock. Then I realized the instructions mention a craft knife, which I did not have, but what the hell, I bet the kitchen scissors will work okay. And glue. Surely we already have glue? 

We did not, as it turned out, have any glue other than an ancient bottle of super-adhesive Gorilla Glue, which I was pretty sure is not the ideal choice for this sort of thing, but it was too late, Noah had spotted the print-outs in front of me and was already well into a shit-losing fit of anticipation.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: I spent four and a half fucking hours building that house. I spent an hour alone just cutting all the pieces and the insufferable little tabs out. I glued two of my fingers together and lost layers of skin from pretty much all of them. I ultimately ended up reinforcing the insides of that motherfucker with Scotch Tape. It was the most lopsided, pathetic little house you have ever seen.

Noah loved it.

For 15 minutes, anyway, which is how long it took Ezra to get his hands on it and crush it like a balled-up TPS report.

Noah was inconsolable. So I promised to make him another house, just as soon as I procured some better glue. 

The next house was made with Elmer's glue and while I got the construction time down to an even two hours, I was still unable to get the front and back wings of the house to line up properly. That house lasted a few days, at least, before Jason's uncle unwittingly placed it within Ezra's reach and he decided to suck on the chimney for awhile.

By the time I made the third house, I'd upgraded to a deadly-serious pink hobby knife and a special precision-tipped scrapbooker's glue pen, which solved most of the architectural issues but added an hour back onto production time. This house lasted yet another week before Noah insisted on taking it to camp for show & tell. His friends loved it. With a vengeance, unfortunately. Noah was once again despondent, because he'd TRIED to take care of it, he TRIED SO HARD, Mommy, but Miles grabbed it during snack and decided to make it fly and then it fell and the one side is all dented and GRUINED, MOMMY. MY HOUSE IS ALL GRUINED.

And then, with honest-to-God tears in his eyes: Please make me another Carl's House, Mommy. Please.


*looks wistfully out the window at beautiful sunny afternoon*

*loads up the last of the cardstock into the printer*

Photo (38) 

See y'all in a few hours, I guess. This one better be the best one yet.



This may sound crazy, but, could you take the pieces to Kinko's and have them laminated before you assemble it? It might last a little longer.

Mandi Bone

I love Up too. I even have a Ellie badge tattoo.


You are most definitely an awesome Mom! Loved the video of Noah.


Maybe try cutting out cardboard in the same shape as the house pieces, and gluing the cardstock to that to give it a little more stability? I might just be a little bit of a Kindergarten teacher in my soul.


What if you glued it to some of that foam stuff? I was thinking foam board at first, but that flexible foam stuff that they make those visors and such out of might even be better. Then it would bend instead of break.

Also, my baby has now become obsessed with this video of Noah and is saying "No-ah! 'Cited! Again!" (Which is Noah is excited, let's watch it again! And again. And again.)


God, I am so disastrous at arts and crafts. My children will probably never be this loved because I'm a scissor failure. This sweet testament to your awesome parenting skills made me all Bawwwwwwwwwwww.


When Noah is a teenager and thinks you are ruining his life, then show him this post. You are an awesome Mom!


Definitely a contender for Greatest Mother Ever. Or at least the Mother With The Greatest Dedication To Building A Lasting Cardstock Replica Of The House From Up!

I think I'd have given up after the second one.


Awww... Poor Noah. You're such a great mom, Amy.

By the way, it was totally volcano day yesterday on the science channel. I don't have volcano issues, but I was still a little freaked out.

FreeRange Pamela

I am so impressed by Mandi's tattoo. And your persistence in making this house over and over again. The amazing power of love. In our house it'd be something related to dinosaurs. Kid already says he wants to be a spinosaurus for halloween. Think there will be a ready-made costume I can buy? I don't think so, either.


I would do the exact same thing. Even though it is a huge p.i.t.a. To me, doing something even though it's hard is real love. You are a great mom.


Practice makes perfect, right? What about laminating it before assembly? Might make it a little more difficult, but hell, you've been there done that! :)


My 4- and 7-year-old girls have decided, respectively, that "I like Noah; he's my new friend," and, "I wish I can go to his house and play Wii with him" after watching that video. They noticed nothing about his reaction to the house, probably because it matches their own.

You're an awesome mom. And I scrolled really fast past the picture of the craft so they won't know it's out there.


Mommy of the year? You deserve the Mom of the century award! Your little guy is a very lucky one!


This was what I needed to see this morning, thanks for sharing.

His excitement is contagious - thanks for the smile.

Martha Walker

Definitely think that a stronger base should work. Reading all the suggestions, perhaps you can make a super structure based on shared ideas. The foam core base is a good idea -- use the cardboard as a backing for cut out pieces and laminate the crap out of the card stock. Try Aleene's tacky glue (great "tack" for craft projects) to adhere it all together!

The Other Laura

I am amazed at how great Noah's speech sounds in the video!


The video is so cute! My first thought was that you could use waterproof paper (such as rite in the rain copier paper), but I like the laminating and foam board ideas. You could also fill the house with stuffing before adding the floor to make it more sturdy.


I'm pretty sure you could get an entire china set of #1 Mom dishes. :-) (And holy crap buckets - that house looks like a nightmare to put together! Just saying - good for you.)


I agree with the idea of laminating the pieces before gluing them together. Contact paper is an easy at-home way of laminating, if you want to skip a trip to Kinko's. Let's hope you don't have to make too many more houses!


Three words my friend: Spray Can Shellac.

the Grumbles

the whole time you were describing it i was imagining it... bigger. no wonder it takes so long! all those teeny-tiny cuts and glues!

(and the suggestions above to have the pieces laminated are pure genius BUT- if you don't want to do that you can do your own at-home lamination with clear packing tape. it works GREAT and it might help because if you get lamination on the gluing tabs they might not stick as well anymore. ...or if you do have it laminated, use super glue. i hope that helps and isn't annoying, i like crafts)


Please, in the name of all that is holy, get a plastic or glass dome or something to protect version 4.0.

The things we do for our kids.

You are a trooper.


I like Grumbles idea. And if you want to make it REALLY durable, like, tornado and rain durable, you could put a coat of RESIN on that sucker like they do with those food magnet thingies? You know the ones? That look like real food? Except they're coated in resin?

That's the ticket.


If you haven't encountered it yet, and you're looking for something a little easier to deal with, I was surprised to discover that the Up tie-in book "My Name is Dug" is actually really, really good.

My sons both love it, especially the fact that Dug is talking to the reader throughout. ("I can smell you. You smell like peanut butter!")

It's not as much fun as a flying Up house, mind you -- and now I find myself toying with the idea of building one myself and attaching it to a helium balloon. And then sanity returns, as I realize that the toddler would treat it like Godzilla treats Tokyo.



Whenever I am feeling blue, I intend to watch this video of Noah because man, why the hell doesn't adulthood offer that level of joy?

Also: you go, crafty mama.

Megan@Blueberry Scones

I second the idea of laminating the thing.

I am not crafty AT ALL, and this post made me hyperventilate with "What Is To Come."

kari weber

I second the idea of laminating the card-stock with contact paper or clear packing tape to be able to avoid the tabs, as well as then reinforcing the joined edges with another piece of packing tape or contact paper. It would be great to be able to get really flexible plastic or foam (like suggested) to adhere all the pieces too, because that would definitely reinforce the "dent-ed-ness" of it...

Last night my husband and I spent 5 hours re-creating ALL of my son's Lego sets for him from the HUGE bucket of mixed up pieces... I am cross-eyed.

lisa marie

I'm with Jenny. Shellac that sumbitch.

Kudos to you. Noah is the shiznet.


I just mentioned that I might dress as Carl's House for Halloween (Noah's idea, I think) and my friends looked at me as if I was nuts, since this is apparently the year we're being pirates. Last Halloween I was Pippi Longstocking and they were dressed in 80's workout gear. Also, we're all about 40.


Wow! I hope Jason gets you a present that is not faux jeans for Ezra! (also I would feel like a liar if I didn't say that I cried, fecking AGAIN, because Noah is so amazing and strong and doing so well! I love that little boy so!)

Emily Hawkins

I was also surprised that you spent roughly 10 hours making 3 houses the size of your fist. Amazing feat of motherly love. Would it be cool to turn it into a mobile? You could cut out bunches of balloons and maybe the characters. I know part of the fun is making it fly, but it might be satisfying if it flew AND was safe from the destructive clutches of a younger brother.


Gesso. Artist's gesso. It's what makes artwork shiny and protected. And it can do the same for you. ;)


You are teh awesomez, mama. I got kinda teary about you making all those houses, because your little guy loves them that much, and you love him that much.


OK, holy CRAP does that look complicated, and you have some mad origami skills to put that together (several times). I love that you've made it over and over again - awesome mom!



Awww!! "Gruined!!" He is so precious!! :)


I'm no architect, but I bet you could scale the house up with a color copier and reduce some of the intricacies of the cutting stage. If you do all the pieces to the same scale, it should be fine. Kinko's could probably do it.

Also, I don't mean to be a stalker or something, but Noah's speech sounded fabulous.


you=best mommy ever!

Melissa S.

My apologies if it was actually your blog where I first saw the link over to this other blog, but these costumes are so amazing, I had to share. If you get started now, I'm sure you could recreate these Up costumes for Halloween this year:


OOOOOOH you need some foamcore board and an art major to help ya.... the wacky stuff moms will do...:)


Wow - Noah's speech is so clear, his excitement so infectious, and the story about his friend at school so... normal. Its almost enough to distract me from the fact that you built that d@mn house four times. What we do for love...


This whole post almost makes me happy that my girl is so obsessed with princesses. At least I can satisfy her obsession by stopping into the store. Any store. Because no matter where you are, you can get something Princess.


You are The Best Mom Ever!!!


You really are a wonderful mom! Next time you have a craft project, feel free to give me—a complete stranger—a call. I've got ALL the supplies (it's my job!), and would be happy to lend a hand! :)

Jen L.

LOVE this. My son made me watch it 6 times. I love seeing Noah get excited like that!


A mother's love is never done.


This makes me want to build Noah a wooden UP house. But I'm busy and that would be a big undertaking, so I found this for you instead

I dunno if you'd want to spend the kind of money that I'm sure that thing would cost, but oh I could imagine Noah sleeping with it each night :)


Ooh, you know, attaching it to a helium balloon would keep it out of Ezra's reach, but still accessible for Noah's admiration/enjoyment.


Not only are you pretty much Mother of the Year I have to say, that's probably the cutest video I've ever seen of any kid...EVER.


Wow that thing is tiny! I would find a large enough tupperware to keep it in so it hopefully won't get crushed. You are one dedicated mom Amy!

Heather Ben

on my god that video of him is awesome! major points scored for your efforts.

i wonder if you could glue the face of the cardstock onto a more stable material...

Heather Ben

just in case you haven't see this, here is another download for looks like the same thing...maybe this one will hold better??


Hi! This is the cutest post! I was wondering if it would be ok to ReBlog this? Let me know!


OMG, how I adore watching little kids completely lose their shit over things they love. Noah is awesome. And not just because he looks like my five year old's long lost twin. Seriously, there is a little blond boy four states away who looks and acts like your Noah. And who also loves Up, but more because of Dug the dog.

Aunt Becky

The good part is, you're probably getting faster at making them. The bad part is, you're still making them.

Sorry, duder.


Wow, just wow. I would have stopped at 2 I think, and made up some lie about how I found this beautiful plastic house that I know doesn't look exactly like the UP house but it's BETTER than the silly paper UP house and all the other kids love this plastic one. Yeah, I lie to my kids all the time. I just told my 25 year old daughter that I don't mind if her, her 2 toddlers and ex-husband stay at my house while she packs all her stuff she has left from the previous 3 times she moved out.

I think that even laminating it or using foam board, it will still get crushed. But that 2 part epoxy resin stuff, that might make the whole house really hard. I think you can also get the stuff to make a snow globe, so maybe you could inclose it in something like that.


If this doesn't inspire you to go to Michael's and grab some bake-in-the-oven clay to make a model, nothing will XD


I'm reminded of my *three* attempts to make a death star pinata for my son's birthday.

Freckle on the Nose of Life's Complexion


Sorry about that. I really would like one though.

LD's Mom

You are an AWESOME mom!


That video is awesome! With that level of excitement....I'd mail you more card stock :)



That is all.


Oh. My God. You seriously ARE the best mom ever, Amy. I bow down to you. AND I'M A CRAFTER.


heart= melting all over laptop keyboard!
Could he be any sweeter?? Wanting Carl's House? I love him :)


must add...after watching the video- he could indeed be sweeter! "oh my- the little girl sees the house mommy!" Again with the melting heart!

Greg S.

Best. Mom. EVAR!!11!!ONE!1!

A great mom would make the house. An extraordinary mom would make it over again. A fourth house? Each iteration taking hours? Inconceivable!

Gotta love how excited your child is about it, though, don't you?


That looks... complicated. SCARY comlicated. Tiny papercuts all over fingers and have-no-fingerprints left kind of complicated.

Well done, you! :o)


Someone probably already said this but, have you thought about commissioning one made out of wood? I bet you could find someone on Etsy that could do it. Or ask this woman. She has her own Etsy shop and makes the cutest toys out of wood.

Also, check out her robot blocks, (there's a link to her shop on her blog) I bet the boys would love them. (I'm planning to order a set for my son's fourth birthday in a few months.)


Ah, the link didn't go through:


So far today I've watched this four times, just to smile at the absolute joy. We don't have enough of that. Thanks, Noah!

Stay At Home Mom

Hey, I must commend you for making those houses. I am not good at all on cutting and sticking stuff together. lol! I would definitely have a hard time making it stand up. How about pasting those print outs into something hard? Would it make it more durable?

Katie Kat

Oh... my HEART! Oh dear! My four year old came running in the room while I was playing the video and said "What is he so happy and yelling about Mommy? OH!!! The house, the house!!"

Noah is just too much... too entirely adorable. I know you've had troubles, and we mostly just see the "awwwwww" moments, but wow -- GREAT GREAT GREAT MOMMYING!




You are a GOOD mommy. (and I love "gruined" as much as I love my daughter's "bannerina")


I have to tell you... that level of excitement? That gets redirected as we grow up, sure. Into the next big thing. But it never goes away. I still get that excited about a topic of particular interest at work, or an especially good episode of Doctor Who, or even a seminar speaker with whose research I'm familiar.
So yeah. Jumping up and down and constant rewinding it is.


I don't have kids yet but I can guarantee I'll never be that awesome. my kids are going to have to make their own damn houses.

As I was watching this, I realized that the house I'd fallen in love with (the one where I say "self! your job is ending in one year! do not buy a home in a maybe-will-gentrify-one-day-but-right-now-has-a-mental-hospital-as-its-main-attraction neighborhood!") is pretty much Carl's house, minus a paint job.


So well done. Have you thought about paying someone on etsy to make a house out of wood? There are a few people who customize doll houses on there. I'm sure a small one wouldn't be too expensive...and it would save you permant damage.


I looked around on Etsy and looooooky what I found!![]=tags&includes[]=title

Sure, it's $225, but Noah is totally worth that.



Please please please tell me you have considered tying a bunch of helium-filled balloons to this mf and floating it around the house. (And please DON'T tell me if someone else already commented this. I'm on my way out the door and don't have time to read through all of them.)


I am totally all verklempt. And you are definitely Mother of the Year.


Indeed, there should be some sort of special Crafting Heroism Award for such dedication in the face of paper cuts and inadequate glue.

I know someone already linked to The Model Maker's clay model of the house, but did you see this one?

I can't help but believe that there must be SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE who would make a similar (but perhaps less intricate) wooden dollhouse at a reasonable price for a boy with this much passion. If I had the skill I would totally do it. But, alas, my carpentry ability is entirely limited to the most basic of human-scale projects.

Maybe you should send this post to John Lasseter, along with a note begging him to license a sturdy UP dollhouse at a Target-friendly price.

Suzy Q

Aw, this is so cute. Will you make me one, too?


if there's no toy of the house available, didn't you just create one? that you could sell the idea for to someone? and make lots of m-o-n-e-y??!!


I cannot believe how clear Noah's speech is ... I remember seeing some videos where I couldn't even tell the words he was saying apart ... and now GOD! How amazing is that! He just looks so happy and full of life... it's impressive! What an amazing little boy he is


Amy - I have been reading here since....before you got pregnant with Noah, know, A WHILE. I can honestly say:
a) this is my favorite post
b) it makes me want a little boy BAD
c) which is a good thing as my (new! brand spanking new!) husband is one of 4 boys, who have between them 6 sons and 1 daughter.
d) see item b, x a million

Noah sounds SO good! You were so right to do all that research and get him to his school.

Anyone think Amy needs a
I do!



I foresee many more trips to the craft store in the future, because you are just that kind of mom! (and now you have the badass craft knife, you have to use it on something else).

So I saw these photos last night and was trying to figure out a way to send the link to you without seeming like a totally random stalker - at least now photos of the Big Island volcano flow consuming a house are related to a post...

(dude, how's that for a descriptive URL?!)


Noah is so sweet. My 15 month old is in love! He would love this shirt with the house on it-


Way before there was a movie of the Polar Express, I too desperately wanted a silver bell from the book I'd heard at storytime.


Now THAT is love...


No matter what kind of strengthening you think of, please make an unassembled copy in case it disappers from the Web. Then you will have one to work from in the future, because I foresee multiple opportunities. It is the best video I have seen in ages.

Emma are such a great mom. And apparently becoming an expert architect of cardboard houses lol!


Ok a) cutest cutest video ever and b) His!! I have 3 nieces/nephews around his age, and not one of them speaks as clearly as he does!


I love all the recommendations. I was totally not that far into the mental process. I was just really excited for Noah that he went from terrified of the flying house to obsessed with it. But I am all for using limited crafting skills to reinforce the obsession du jour. I totally made a shalf-paper-laminated Magic Tree House passport for my oldest and am working on another for my 4-year-old. It gets old, sure, but it's satisfying for us both.


You are SUCH an awesome mom!


That's awesome - thanks for doing that for him over and over! He probably won't thank you for it and someone should. You're doing a Good Thing for him with that!!!!


I can't breathe I'm laughing so hard. Definitely Mom of the Year for remaking the house time and time again. Love how you've perfected the process!

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