Hey, November got crazy, I did finish the shed but it was a marathon! I had tons of help and it was like a party, I can see how barn-raising used to be a community affair. We did get the snow, as expected, and the weather just kept on for the entire long weekend. However, it was not that cold so for me, that was really good. Sure there was snow on the ground but my fingers and toes were cozy in normal layers so the finishing bits got done. On Thanksgiving day I pulled out the ladder and air nailer and finished the roof tarp properly. Then we installed the door. It may have been what I was most worried about and in the end, it was the absolute easiest! We had everything going for us;
- High-quality Anderson door that was well built and had fewer steps for installing than my doorbell
- We built the opening to match the door so we didn’t need to adjust anything
- everything was square to start! that was a big surprise to us all but it shows that being careful at the start pays off in the end.
The only snafu was the cat stepping in the silicon gel and we wasted a little time laughing at the cat (and googling if it was toxic) (it was not). The thing was heavy but between 3 adults we shoved it in and that was more or less that. It makes the shed look like a real building, I’m very pleased.
Thanksgiving afternoon, post-construction projects, progressed as holiday normal. Friends came over, the table was set with cheer, food was cooked and consumed and everyone had a good time. I went to bed happy, and, for the first time in weeks, I slept well because I had ZERO crazy deadline projects on my mind.
The kids had off from Wednesday through the weekend, but, it was very crappy weather with snow, freezing rain, more snow interspersed with random decent weather. This is NOT GOOD for going places but the kids really did have a great time playing in the snow around the house. I can’t express in words how good it feels for them to decide to put on snow gear and go out and play. They play nicely for ages. It sounds dumb but it makes my heart full and happy, I hope I always remember this.
There was a vague plan to go get a Christmas tree ‘from the wild’ but the weather just wasn’t on our side so we went with our traditional visit to the Home Depot to pick a tree ‘from the not wild’. It is still a fun little trip and I love the tree we picked. The Home Depot must have extra jolly criteria for working the tree lot because like last year, the people who helped us were fun and happy and made the experience more than transactional.
In the past I’ve stressed about the ‘holiday card picture’ and over the past years, I’ve realized that I do better trying all year to get good pictures and then one low-stress fast fun photo if the opportunity arises. The perfect opportunity presented itself on Sunday – we had been unpacking the decorations and found all the assorted shirts so everyone put one on, also found were the assorted Santa hats. The day moved on and there was a break in the weather so everyone ran outside with boots, hats, scarfs and no other changes to outfit or hair or makeup and we took about 15 pictures in under 5 minutes and it worked great. I have two great shots and zero crabby kids.
The balance of this week has been all about putting the house back together post project and 5 days of lazy vacation life. I finished our Christmas card today and its at the printer and this weekend santa comes to our town to light the tree so I’m working on decorations and gift ideas too.
It is a different type of busy, Christmas still has its stresses and I create my own extra for wanting to do ‘all the things’ but it is a fun busy. Who knows how long the particular magic of Santa will last but I plan on enjoying it all.
Since Sunday I’ve been spending all my time shed building. Timeline got critical because a big (early) snowstorm is predicted for tonight so it was pretty much the last chance to build my shed. The shed has been pushed off all season because;
- very very wet spring, like standing water all spring
- Needed to research and decide and research and read and ask etc this takes a long time in my world, I probably should have started last January to actually be ready for a May build.
- You know, life, and kids and extra kids, travel, and the summer just flew and I’m not a fan of working in super hot sun either.
- Other projects stole time and resources, I did build a Pergola and a garden structure this year as well as some indoor things but the shed was always on my mind.
- Fall went back to rain every weekend, very non-conducive to getting something built.
Finally, I decided what I wanted, how it should go, and the weather was not wet and so last week I started digging foundation just in time for a hard freeze BUT there was a predicted nice week (this week) so in many ways this entire shed has been actually built between Sunday and today.
It was a team effort, even the kids helped, and everyone had fun doing it. The impending snow was the challenge we needed to really get moving. I have worked pretty constantly the past 3 days with breaks to drive kids or go to the hardware store. If it was summer we could have done so much more because it is light out until 8pm but a 4:30 sunset adds to the difficulty and also makes it harder to over-do it because there is no way to push on and get to the stupid stage of the day.
According to the weather people, we should start seeing snow in about half an hour but at this point we are ready. The foundation, frame, sheeting, and house wrap are done. The roof trusses are up and so is the plywood and underlay for shingles, and, about 2 rows of shingles. We put a giant tarp up, in the dark, because nobody was willing to shingle in the dark *even though I found a shop light!!*. I also didn’t get the door in so there is a tarp over the opening. The door is something I can get done in the snow but the roof is just going to wait until spring. My fondest hope is a warmish day this week, I can shovel a path and it will be snug in there to put in the door and then add a few shelves, hooks for bikes etc and haul the stuff from the garage so then I can park in the garage for the rest of the season. We will see…
My brain is super energized for getting so much done so fast, but, my body is telling me I used a lot of odd muscles. Right now I’m tucked in bed early with my laptop enjoying putting my feet up and surrounding myself with pillows. Tomorrow I tackle the things not yet done in the week, and, prep for Thanksgiving. It is a mellow holiday with 2 friends families joining and provided we are not snowed in, I will shop tomorrow for all the things for a proper feast. No other plans (other than the shed finishes) for the holiday but I foresee puzzles, games, TV and maybe some Christmas shopping and decorating. Sorry, I didn’t post daily, hopefully nobody thought I was overcome by sleepover kids. (that was a busy day, maybe I’ll post about it tomorrow)
I have been planning a trip to Ikea for so long that the thing I needed to start I don’t need anymore but now I need something different. I can always find a reason to go to Ikea.
This time we *really* went because Vacation Mom needed something that won’t fit in her car so she got me lunch and I was her minivan sized shopping partner. Whoever styles that store should get awards because they are really so pretty. I need to step back and say “no, my room is not that size nor color so it will not be the same”.
We did meet with a VERY disapproving Ikea salesperson who was NOT interested in our ideas about how to use things for our purpose and not necessarily the intended purpose. In the end, we found a storage solution that we don’t need to modify at all and it was on sale so win-win.
Lovely day out with a friend *and* we also worked out for the second day in a row.
I’m currently taking a break from assembly to get a coffee and write this and then find a screwdriver. You will read this when you will but for me, I’m writing at a time that I’m normally picking up kids and driving home. No, they are no on yet another un-known off day, they all have after school choir. ALL OF THEM. This will be the one and the only year it is even possible since #1 goes to a different school next year. I should be savoring this odd time but it just feels like I’m off schedule and on top of daylight savings I’m a mess. I check my watch constantly to make sure I’m not late for late pickup. I’ll get used to it about a week before the program is over.
Ok, coffee is ready and assembly is calling. I’ll post on Instagram (sidebar if you are looking at the web version) when I get it done. You can probably guess what I suddenly needed but if you need a hint – I just cleaned my closet so….
I must remind myself that this time last year our house didn’t even have sheetrock or toilets so I can’t feel down that we don’t have a brilliant patio, garden, playset, and yard. I’ve been working hard and I can say we do have a fairly cool playset and 1/4 of a garden structure. I got semi-firm timing on when the builders will be able to finish our yard grading and the grass is after that. I know I’ve posted a little about the play structure already but for the sake of complete info, here is a pretty complete summary;
1. I purchased this set* from Amazon since it came with hardware and swings and I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. It was a good choice and I learned some nice tricks from the instructions that I used in my extra structures. I did need to buy the GIANT drill bit and spade bit but they proved useful in all other parts of my building so an extra $30 well spent. It took me about a week in little bursts to get the base set done. If I just ‘did it’ I estimate 6 hours and you absolutely need a 2nd person for at least one part but I did the vast majority alone. Let’s just say that time in the gym isn’t wasted because I lifted a lot in making this. (*I get nothing from you buying, just telling you what I got)
2. I had this set of monkey bars from when we had them in our old house. I originally thought I would put them from the platform end but once I saw the 3d version I scrapped that plan and moved the monkey bars over to the end. The plan was to use the A at the end for one of the supports to increase stability. This could have been done in about an hour but took me 4 days because of the lack of an hour in a row.
- I measured and dug holes for the other 4x4x8 3 legs based on the anchor of the swing set
- I assembled the bars 17 inches apart on the 2x6x12s set onto a set of saw horses so I didn’t have to use a ladder. This did create a pretty heavy thing to lift up and bolt so my solution was to put a couple screws half way into each leg at about the goal height to lift and prop the monkey bars on top of. It isn’t safe to leave this way so make sure you have time to do at least 3 of the 4 legs or just put it down again.
- With the bars up lifted up (team lift) and resting at the height, we decided on (78 inches) based on the scientific method of having the kids reach/jump and show me where they wanted – I bolted the first ‘corner’ to the swing set using 3/4 x5 bolts and these nifty washers that nail into the wood. I sunk each in about an inch and drilled using my giant drill bit purchased for the swing set.
- From that first point, I leveled the system on leg number 2 (same side, other end). I generally ignored the level left/right at that time and things stayed reasonably steady on their screw rests. I could pretty easily lift the little bit to make it level and then reused the screws to fasten it while I made the bolt hole.
- Turned around and did the 3rd bolt, leveling left/right and repeating the screw, drill, bolt procedure.
- Last leg, I had to level both lengths and left/right but it was pretty easy with the other 3 set tight.
- Finally, I cut scrap to add bracers/steps and attached them.
The monkey bars were a wild success and my monkey children loved it. After a few days it got a left/right wobble on the end away from the swing set. I didn’t use concrete or set them super deep so that would be a good choice if you want to eliminate this issue. Personally, I didn’t concrete because I didn’t know how long this will be up, and, I didn’t want to mess with it. Instead, I added a flip bar to add to the fun, and, stabilize the system.
- I purchased another 4x4x8, a 3/4in 45inch long threaded stainless pipe (they come that way at our store) and 2 floor flanges.
- To be super stable we sunk this 4×4 super deep, so deep we hit water. There is at least 4 feet below the ground (FYI the reason why we don’t have a basement).
- I already had the giant drill and the spade bit from the swing set and I easily drilled a set of holes and banged the pipe through.
- thread on the flange and screw it onto the posts, not like it was going anywhere but now it really isn’t.
The flip bar was actually the easiest thing because I already had the tools and really it was already 1/3 built because it latched onto leg 3 of the monkey bars. Amazing what not going to the store does for the speed of a project.
Future plans for this structure include a balance beam on the other side of the monkey bar to further stabilize, although it is pretty good now. I’m also adding a ninja line at some point too, still researching the right one for us.
If you found this because you want to DIY a backyard swing set or playset this worked for me. I would say I have medium building skills and I read the directions many may times. For the part I ‘made up’ it is all about keeping stuff level and bolting it together. The rest of the yard is not much to look at but the kids have a playset now and that was goal #1 of the yard.
I missed recording a few things in my crazy little life here.
Most importantly; #2 is now 9! As we say ‘It’s time for 9″. She claims she had to wait FOREVER for her birthday and all her friends are older, however, given the number of birthday parties we have attended for her friends this month, she was born peak season. We did another sleepover with a fun painting project to pass the time. All the girls did great with everything and eventually went to sleep. The party was on a Friday night to have a prayer of fitting into graduation/recital season and we actually had everyone attend and the bonus was we still had the weekend. On her real birthday, we had lunch together at school and she skipped jujitsu to hang out with me and then we went for sushi. It was a full day and I think she enjoyed it.
Speaking of parties – in the past 2 weeks, we have had 4 kid birthday parties, a house warming, a bridging ceremony, a graduation, and 2 grad parties that we got to. It has been an intensely social couple of weeks. Most of these were in succession, going from one to the next to the next. A few were concurrent where we dropped a kid at a birthday and went to another celebration and back in time to pick up again. Exhausting but exciting and fun to see so many friends achieving things in their worlds.
The weather… has been a factor in all things. Currently, it is raining, again. Yesterday it was perfect. That is the way, we get a couple gorgeous days and a couple soggy days. I have two lists at all times; things to do outside and things to do inside. It also has been mild to cool here still. I know other places are melting already but we are still using layers. I wonder if I can ever put away all the winter?
Remember when I said I was doing a lot of field trips this month? This past week I went on a 3 day trip ‘up north’ with the 5th grade. It was thoroughly educational and the staff at the place was incredibly good with kids and making science exciting. Every activity had a running dialogue of history and science and social interactions that was like sneaking veggies into a cookie. We spent tons of time in the woods, in the ponds looking at micro-organisms, and even some classroom time. They have a magic formula going up there I’m glad to have participated in. It was worth the time, however, three days away still has a price in things NOT done elsewhere and it was also not exactly relaxing keeping track of 130 kids.
We also got a new minivan. This was a process that spanned about 4 months but we finally got it this Saturday. It is still a little amazing to be in, so new and full of tech to learn. We decided on the Pacifica – great safety and stats – but we needed one that had 6 seats in the back. That turned out to be a special order but it was worth the wait because since we were factory ordering we could get or leave out any option we wanted so no compromises because it was ‘on the lot’. I listed our Oddysey and hope it sells to a nice person. That will be its own post someday because it truly was a good car. We have always done a trade in so it is odd to still have our old car too.
Between parties and rain storms, we have gotten more of the play set up, I added monkey bars and then a flip bar that is both fun and helps keep the system stable. The kids are enjoying it both for its built purpose of swing/monkey bar/flip and also as a centerpiece of imagination games that I can’t even start to describe. Let’s just say my 3 have no shortage of crazy imagination scenarios that they can play all day. This set lures them out of the house. There is still a list of building projects not to mention yard work in general. We did get our yard mowed. Note I didn’t say grass…. we are waiting on the builders to finish some drainage fixes so we didn’t plant yet, however, plenty of volunteer green items were filling the void and we mowed them to a socially acceptable level. Next year we might have grass… maybe.
Sports were dominant this month with #1 doing track and #2 doing softball and #3 doing gymnastics and they were all stacked on Monday and Tuesday making them crazy afternoons. We survived though, the last track meet was Monday and #1 did very well. She was 3rd overall for the 800m and had fun on all her events. Everyone got t-shirts and ribbons and I got to see parent friends from all over I wasn’t expecting. Now we ‘just’ have softball and gymnastics (and jujitsu) but the schedule is much less crazy.
Last but not least, I looked and there are less 2 weeks of school left. This year flew by but we did do quite a lot so we earned our summer. The next 2 weeks are full of end of year things, a final field trip, #2 has a wax museum presentation that parents are invited to, and I need to do one last birthday party.
I’m closing in on 1000 words here so that is plenty to read with your coffee, I will keep ‘blogging’ on my list for inside time and hopefully, I get back to a bit more regular schedule when things click over to summer life.
ps. while uploading pictures I was reminded that I also went to school for their field day, a 5th-grade concert that was actually really good, we dealt with our first major behavior in school issue, we attended the agriculture fair at the high school and got to pet the baby goats and I helped a friend rehab and stage his house to sell – reminding me I don’t really like packing but packing someone else is more fun. Now I don’t feel so bad about the basket of towels that just never seems to get folded.
Given it is somehow Friday already I am just hitting the highlights. We are in the busy season of life, and, I gave in and each kid has a separate activity so I’m going in 6 directions. I like being busy, it just doesn’t leave too much extra time for online musings.
Right now, #1 is in track on Monday and Wednesday. This *should* have been easy and at her school, however, her session didn’t have enough to run so we moved her to a different elementary school so I need to run her and a friend a few miles ASAP so they aren’t too late. On the bright side, Lars picks her up and the other school is actually closer to our new house and they go directly to jujitsu. She is really into running and I’m glad because it is a life-long thing. I’m also happy that she is meeting other kids in our district so when they all go to middle school together, she already knows some people.
#2 has taken up softball. WTH? there are actually sports I like less, but not many. I have vivid memories of trying to avoid batting or any field position that would actually need to catch or throw for my 12 years where softball was a mandatory segment of our physical education. This is the joy of children; I get a re-do. A no pressure redo at that! I am not playing, she is, and she LOVES it even though she has zero experience. Since she is so into it I’m leaning in and we have a suite of gloves for the family, 4 softballs, a bat, a helmet and a big enough yard that we can practice. It was a little picket fence, American dream moment yesterday playing catch with my girls in the yard in the sunshine on a fresh spring day. Nobody got hit with a ball even! If you are looking for us on Monday or Tuesday evenings they are softball games. If you are looking for us any sunny afternoon, check the yard and our homemade field.
#3 is in love with gymnastics. Tuesday afternoons (before softball) she points her toes and jumps and flips with absolute joy. You would think she would be tired out from an hour of this but it gives her more energy. She was promoted from beginner to intermediate but fortunately, classes are at the same time and day work. Although the gym smells like a sewer mixed with perfume and feet she can’t get enough of it.
Yesterday I went on my first of 3 field trips this month. May is super full because there are 2 or 3 other neat events I’m attending plus the school play. This weekend is a color run, next week is the teacher breakfast and 5th-grade concert. Later in the month is the agriculture fair where the HS students show off all the cute baby goats and chicks. I’m going to be very active in the world so fair warning I might not get it back to here. The field trip yesterday included fire starting a great hike and a canoe ride around the lake. It was exhaustingly good. I did get the reminder that kids scream a lot, and, there are some kids we probably should not teach how to start fires…
My summer building plans are coming along. I’m firm now on my garden structure after many iterations and plans on paper. I believe we now have a plan for a budget-friendly and easy and not ugly garden. I need the weather to cooperate but I’m looking at Sunday. I will be posting if it is a success… The swingset; I ended up going with a kit so not super creative but I’m putting my twist on it. That is also something I’m going to start this weekend, we will pick up ALLLLLL the wood and I want help so have to wait on the husband.
In conclusion, if you are counting; Monday I bring 2 kids to track, then 2 different kids to softball. Tuesday I bring 2 home, then 1 to gymnastics, then home and out again to softball. Wednesday just track and Lars does jujitsu with all 3 of them so I get a break! Thursday Niamh babysits directly after school and I have school board meetings. Friday no reoccurring scheduled activities. This isn’t counting girl scouts or one-off meetings in the month. Good thing I like being busy.