I can’t help it – it’s in my DNA. When a holiday comes around, decorations and displays need to be over the top. When a project presents itself, I want to go a bit overboard. Vacations, events (and any experience really) just call for me to document and rework those captured images into a lasting piece to be re-experienced later. I’m constantly aware of time passing by and our one and only chance to experience THIS moment.
As I said, that drive is in my blood. I come from a long line of over-the-toppers. My Grandpa Marshall was an adventurer, and would totally ignore any barrier (even legal ones) if it meant getting in to see something or having a chance to make the memory that much more. Each of my Grandpa’s kids have this in them as well. My aunt Sharon would literally cut down trees and haul them to her classroom in order to build a teepee for her kids. My uncle Rick once turned his daughter’s wheelchair into this elaborate John Deere tractor as a costume, and the whole family went themed around that design. For my mom, every school project growing up was an opportunity to do something at the next level. Vacations always included some sort of memorable experience, usually one that no one else had or was allowed to experience (we weren’t either, but that’s in the DNA – I still remember you rummaging through desks on the floor of the US Senate for a souvenir, Mom.)
My dad has the bug too. He might claim that he has been influenced by the Marshall force, but him and my uncle do everything big too. He has always met and exceeded the challenge. A science project that turned into a fully working wind tunnel built in our basement, tons of invention contests with working electronics and detailed displays, even recently a simple sandbox turned into an incredible and intricately designed work of craftsmanship.
So why do we do it? Why does every project get amped up? Why does every experience get documented and published? For me, it’s the quest for the lasting impression.
It is so much fun for me to dive into these things. Since I’ve owned my house, each Christmas has been a new challenge for the improved lighting display outside. Lights on the house, fence, yard, and more! It’s a good thing the Christmas season is so busy for me, or I might not keep it under control. But why? Simply, because it’s a blast to do and we will remember it!
When it came time for us to decide what Jackson would be for Halloween, all I knew was that it had to be unique and cool. In the end, Leslie loved where we landed and helped out in the making of the project, but it took some convincing for me to avoid Jackson being a standard, generic character. I didn’t know what I wanted him to be, but I wanted it to be awesome. The idea of including a vehicle into his costume excited me, so I set out to roll that in. Originally, we were going to make him a ghostbuster. I thought it would be cool to have him “ghost busting” on halloween, but the idea just didn’t come together in a cool enough way for my liking. So, we landed on Batman.
Since we already had the car, I just wanted to build onto that frame, and not alter the car itself. So I cut out a shape for the sides of the car out of 1/4″ plywood, added LED lights underneath (for ground effects) and on the bumper to give it some pop. I found a cool bat-shaped light for the hood. The “afterburner” was made from a stove pipe coupler with a car tail light mounted inside. All of this was powered off two large 6V flashlight batteries wired in series, stored in the car’s hood. Finally, we mounted a portable speaker to the handle, which can play the batman theme song on a loop to create the environment wherever the batmobile rolls.
Was it worth it? Yes! The same goes for videos on carving pumpkins, pictures of boating vacations, going to the southtowns to cut down the Christmas tree. All of these things create lasting memories for our family. I know these days are special, and I want to make a lasting impression on all of our minds, so we never forget how blessed we are and how much fun we have together.
The over-the-topness won’t be stopping anytime soon.
You can watch a video of our little batman here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9aeVb_XAto