Today we were *supposed* to be building a swing set, however, my hardware is not here yet so we jumped onto a project Lars has been really wanting for a long time.
We got super lucky that a friend had a pile of deck wood in his yard that was 2x6x14. (This made our project virtually free) This time Lars did all the research and after a year of using a really bad stand and then searching the internet, he found this target on youtube that was the ‘best’ in many respects. I watched it a few times and figured out the dimensions as we went. In the video he says he uses 2×6’s but they really didn’t look like 2×6 to me, but, I just went with it figuring that if you are using 4×4 blocks a 2×4 would be a little skimpy. After acquiring all the 2×6’s and making the frame I found in the comments that he actually used 2×4’s. Oh well, mine is stronger. He also used bolts and I used screws, again, preference. So, up to you if you use 2×4 or 2×6 or a mix; here is my how-to so you can save some time on dimensions.
- 4×4 – enough to make 100 4in blocks
- 2×4 and 2×6 – I am skipping a precise list here because it depends on the length wood you have what you need, look at the cut list instead.
- 1/4 plywood – enough to cover 3.2 x 3.2, I used 2 pieces I had scrap
- 110 1.25 screws
- 28 (min) 3in Spax #10 <- maybe it is overkill but I love these things
- chop saw and circular saw
- measuring tools
100 blocks of 4x4x4. Despite being called a 4×4 it is not 4 inches, my set of 10 measured 3 feet. <- glad I double checked this or it would have been a re-do.
- Uprights; (2) 7f
- Foot/bottom; (2) 4f
- Diagonal; (2) 4f
- cross piece for the bottom; (1) 3f 6in
- top and bottom of the ‘frame’; (2) 3f **double check your row of 10 blocks and adjust to match. If you want a different sized target to adjust to compensate.
- Spacer; (2) 8in apx (scrap ok, big enough to accommodate the wood you use on an angle)
Order of Operations.
There are probably many right ways, this worked for me well.
- Cut 100 4x4x4 blocks. Double check the measure <- Lars did this while I did everything else
- On upright (1) mark 4f from the top of the stand, mark. take your actual lower frame piece (5), line it up at the mark and then mark below it. (sorry I didn’t take any pictures of it on the ground!)
- Lay foot (2) down, put the upright (1) perpendicular 11 inches from the front of the foot. Check 90 degrees with a protractor/square. Fasten with 2 fasteners.
- add the spacer (6) 3in from the back of the foot. Fasten with 2 fasteners.
- Put the diagonal (3) between the spacer and the bottom of the mark on the upright to make a triangle, there will be some sticking out at the top and bottom. At this point, you can either mark the angle and cut to make it neat, or, leave it overhanging. (I left mine, helped on my lumpy ground for stability) Fasten with 2 fasteners on each end. **see pictures below for a visual**
- Repeat 2-5 for the other side, make sure you mirror it so you have a left and right side.
- Stand up a side, with the foot on the outside and the angle on the inside, fasten the bottom of the frame (5) perpendicular at the mark you made onto the upright. After 1 fastener, make sure it is level front/back. Add the second fastener. **Might not be 90 degrees because of gravity, it will be better after the 2nd half is on.
- Stand up other side and fasten bottom of the frame at the mark.
- Put cross piece (4) across the front of the foot at the upright. Check that the uprights are level/90 degrees and fasten.
- Add all your blocks! This is fun for kids. Make sure the end grain is out.
- Insert the top of the frame, there will be extra protruding up. This is another variation from his design, he has the top bolted into the end grain to ‘clamp’ down the blocks. I have had bad luck fastening into end grain and this method clamped just fine. Fasten from the sides, both sides.
- Put the back on, fasten around the sides and then into each block. We used an offcut to make marks where each block is. Does not need to be exact, but, this is a necessary step because it is the best way to keep the blocks ‘in’ when you are pulling knives out of them. Also, when one is ruined it can easily be replaced and the other blocks don’t fall or shift.
We actually moved our frame between step 9 and 10 because I was worried it would be very heavy but whatever you do, don’t move it until the blocks are fastened, you will see why.
This is great for knives, ok for axe. I have a few ideas for axes in the future and if it works out I’ll share.
Does anyone else remember all the scenes in Bronte books (and that era) where the lady of the house spends time daily on ‘her correspondences’. For some reason, those scenes have begun to truly resonate with me because at this point I need to actually set aside time in my day to correspond with various people.
I don’t actually sit at an antique Queen Ann writing desk in a sunbeam and put pen to paper, however, I do, in the course of my normal life, have several written correspondence to keep up. Maybe in the 1970s and 80’s this was done via phone because that was faster but as a product of modern technology, I find myself preferring to compose a note (text or email) rather than call.
I also end up actually *writing* more than I ever thought I would when I was learning to type in 1st grade. Invitations to parties for kids, permission slips to sign, forms for school and activities and camps to fill out (x3 usually). Notes to and from teachers in folders and planners, a decent pen is still part of my kit regardless of my tablet, phone, and computer.
Just today I sat (in a sunbeam) and checked in with someone I’m helping buy a house, letting her know what the banker needed. I texted a mom friend about an afterschool activity. I set aside an hour a day to do email ranging from setting up pot luck meals to following up on builder items (houses are never done). Facebook is another 21st-century version of keeping in touch with one’s friends and relatives – checking in on certain people, posting encouraging notes, birthday greetings, adding to a conversation about this or that. In the 19th century, people wrote to each other because travel was harder, now we write to each other because time face to face visit is still hard.
The value to face to face time is still very true. However, in order to keep up to date with friends and family in order to have someone to visit one must figure out how to best communicate and in so many ways nothing much has changed between 1919 and 2019 except the speed.
Maybe it is just my brain, maybe it is because kids ask questions you have no possible way of answering like “what is that kids name?” and they point at the model in the poster at the grocery store. I’ve just started naming them, and then to not destroy my creditably with them I started saying “he is a model they choose for this poster but he looks like a John to me”. Anyway, filling in the details around scant facts is my go-to brain game.
Right now I drive the same route 2x min a day for school and sometimes more because of activities. This makes me well acquainted with the shops, empty lots, billboards, and houses along this stretch. It is the stage for the most recent stories in my head. Last year one of the fields sold and I watched a single guy daily put up a giant structure over the course of a month. Maybe he was just first on site but to me, it looked like this intrepid person built a very very large ‘barn’ solo. I imagine him to be a small lotto winner, enough cash to get the land and supplies and to quit his job to follow the dream of building a small business but not enough money to hire help. Or maybe he is just a mean old guy and nobody wanted to help out so he had the “I’ll show them” attitude as he cleared land, set poles, and then put up sides and a roof. It seems to be some sort of truck company now, no signs or anything, and while I could probably go to google to get the answer I like imagining better.
Last week another for-sale sign went to sold status on the lot two down from the curmudgeonly lotto winner. Yesterday there was a pile of supplies. Today there were 6 guys putting up a fence, it was actually almost done as of 9am so they did a lot since yesterday. I wonder what is going up there? There seem to be more than one person on the job at least. No hope it will be something ‘fun’ because that area is all zoned industrial/farm but I’ll have a good time watching it go up.
I think I’m solar powered. Something about actual sunlight and I want to do more. It is also bright out now until nearly 7pm and gaining every day, at our peak, we are light(ish) until nearly 10 and longer days just feel like, well, longer days. The unfortunate thing is I forget to cook dinner until its ‘getting dark’, it is genetic, my mom did the same and I’m still alive so I am sure they will survive. Anyway, we have been doing a lot and I’m planning more so here is a summary so far.
Niamh’s friend party was a HUGE success. I say huge because 5 more people than expected came and it was pretty crazy here. They all had fun and they ran and screamed and semi-participated in organized activities. I’m glad I vetoed the pinata because getting them all together to do anything was not easy. We did all sing together for cake, they did all eat together (more or less). I was stressed for a minute that I didn’t have seating for 16+ anywhere but they actually adapted really well. They just pulled stools around and nooked inbetween and one kid stood and one kid sat in a baby chair and somehow they didn’t notice that I didn’t have ‘proper’ seating for all. The other odd win was a game I nearly cut; ‘let’s make a llama’. I got a 25 pack of little playdoh and printed out a paper with a bunch of llama pictures and everyone got to make a little sculpture and put it in a cupcake wrapper with their name on the bottom and Niamh picked her favorite for a prize. Given age (11) I was surprised how many of them really really enjoyed a playdoh project. This was modeled after a baby shower game ‘make a baby’ but you can put anything as the sculpture goal and they will have fun.
The added bonus of a party is the house gets really clean so Sunday we didn’t have much to do but recover. By later afternoon we were ready for something and Niamh has been bugging me to run with her. I like running solo, technically for a while there I ran to be not with them, but then again, having a thing that is good for us, free, and something we can do ‘forever’ is a good thing so group runs have been on my list for a while. Sunday it came true in such a lovely way. Niamh and Zoe and I ran and Fiona biked and we actually kept a good pace and got to the park nearby and then they played and we ran back again. For a total of 2 miles and about an hour (including playtime) it was a perfect thing for our first good spring day. I have high hopes of doing this again sometime soon.
Over the winter each time we had to shovel snow off our hot tub, we started thinking of outdoor patio cover solutions. We have gone through a few options and have a budget in mind and today we meet with a contractor to talk about what will work here. This may be a multi-year process or we might get it done sooner. Contractors are busy too so we might have to decide if we want to wait or DIY. It is up in the air but the project that is happening now.
Another discovery about our land is that water settles in far too wide an area, we need a smaller deeper spot for it to go. We have talked with the builder and as soon as the ground is ‘right’ we are digging a pond/drainage so I’m researching rain garden v pond. Both have pros and cons really but we need to do something because right now our front yard is a large shallow lake far too often.
Next up is a garden. This is more construction and work for who knows what return but #1 really really wants one and based on the number of deer hoof prints we see if tomatoes and beans are to have any chance at all we need to build a fence. I’m researching fenced gardens and you can go all out with them, or, just string up chicken wire… we will have to see what we have time and energy for.
Easter is sneaking up on us too. Today I squared away egg hunt plans and baskets are under control but the rest of the weekend is still unplanned. Not having family or really a good church community makes religious holidays difficult. Anything will be better than last year where we cleaned and painted in house selling prep so there is nowhere to go but up.
That is all for now, time to get out there and do the running around town. Need to pick up a tuned up bike and sign for taxes and grocery shop etc etc etc. Winter hibernation is officially over.
My first daughter is officially 11. Last year birthday stuff got absolutely lost in the ‘magic’ of moving. Each had a party, each was celebrated, none got a proper blog post and we never did do our adult friend/family party (people that would be invited to all 3). This year we are in a much better place to pay proper attention but this time I hesitate to write a full-on letter publically to #1 because other things have changed.
- She is pretty good about me sharing stuff but she is also shy about somethings so like all internet parents I need to make some boundaries
- I am a bit more of a public figure, not that school board is the same as president however my name is more out there locally and the kids don’t need the extra microscope on them
- There was a really scary local thing where a man spotted a kid getting off the bus and decided he would kidnap her. They had no relation otherwise, he just saw her one day. He broke into her house a couple weeks later, shot her parents, kidnapped her and there was a multi-week search and most had given up. She rescued herself in the end, she was locked in a room but figured out when he was gone and got out and made it to a road and got help. She is ok as can be expected but the safety we all feel is a little less secure. Not that *not* blogging about my kids could have prevented something like that, however, less info as the world gets smaller is probably better.
On the other side of the coin, this is my record of what we do and how I see the world. The title reflects that – I have been a mother for 11 years. It has been a really interesting 11 at that, I’ve learned, made mistakes, apologized to nearly everyone in the world for something I felt I did badly, let go of some notions, adopted others and generally aged a decade in the process.
For this birthday we had the good fortune that it was on a Sunday so I let her sleep in and we did a nice breakfast followed by picking out a bike from the shop (to be delivered next week) and picking up a friend for a rock climbing adventure. We had a little time at our house while I cooked the pie that needed hours to chill and the girls decided to have some impromptu sewing time. They made a pretty reasonable elephant pillow with minimal supervision. 11 is really good like that, the basic sewing machine set up and a 2-minute lesson of ‘follow the line and go slow’ and they were good.
Rock climbing was a blast. The place is just far enough away that we won’t do it often but it is a great thing to try. They have harnesses that are super safe for solo climbing and give just enough upwards pressure that I had no problem with the climbs beyond figuring out where to put my hands. I’m very glad I work out though, however, I wish I had my 6-year-olds weight to strength ratio. She was like a spider on the wall and even did the free climb.
Yesterday I spent from 11:30 on at school or with the birthday girl. I did lunch with each daughter and then took #1 out for our mother-daughter afternoon. We got a pedicure and then found pants that fit her. The day was shorter than other years because I still had to pick up her sisters but we had a nice time. The day was capped off by her getting a home visit from our SCA queen and she was given an award of arms, normally an adult award but she has earned it over the past few years doing pretty much everything she was allowed to help the group. It was a pretty special night overall. Not bad for an 11-year-old.
This weekend we will have a friend party and I have no idea how many kids are coming. A bunch. 20 were invited. I’ll just make a lot of pizza rolls and stay out of the way. They are taking on some of the planning so I’ll be hopefully a support system instead of a cruise director.
Otherwise, I did exciting things like meet with our tax guy. Next for me is party prep and that is mostly cleaning because that is NOT in this particular 11-year-olds wheelhouse…