Monday, August 31, 2015

Oh deer...

I'm starting to get the feeling we need to mow our lawn... or pay this guy a landscaping fee.  He came back to back days, munching on different parts of our lawn!

And somehow, our garden has been left untouched!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Streeeetch that Swingset

Last I mentioned our swingset, was right after we moved in.  We did an inexpensive upgrade to make the unit safe, keeping a lot of the old equipment.

Just after move in

After our move-in repairs
Since then, our playset has gotten a lot of use.  It's used pretty much all year round.

No swings in winter, but the first one to knock off all the snow  off the slide gets a fun treat.

When the swings aren't up yet after the first melt in spring, our kids will still find a way to get playing.  Here they've set up a pinata.

And of course, when all it's all set up in spring, summer and fall, we often have a kid out there swinging.   Isaac... er... Link even learned to pump out there this spring!

Trouble is, we only have that one swing, and three kids.  It's sometimes fought over, but in general, shared okay.  Still, it's not that fun to be the one waiting around... and we do have a 4th kid coming soon.
Eli waiting patiently.

In the last few years, we've made few small tweaks, primarily upgrading a few rotting floorboards and replacing the broken 'helm' with a new one we found on clearance.  We'd been putting off the 'phase 1' upgrade until we had a little bit of money to invest into new equipment.

So, with our big inside projects wrapping up, we started our upgrade.  First item on the list was two new swings.  Nothing easier than just plopping down money.

The second part of our expansion took a little more work.  We wanted to be able to have three spots between the supports; two swings, and one trapeze type bar/baby seat in the center.  Plus, I was able to score a swinging seat from Lowes for cheap when they clearanced out their hardware, so I wanted enough room for at it at the end.  We were hoping to hang a knotted rope (or something like a seat) last time, but the overhand didn't seem quite long enough once it was out there. 

Anyway, we bought a new 4" x 6" to accommodate the extra swings.  It was 4' longer than our last one, making it 12' long.  Here's the layout of the spacing of the swings.  The spacing was based on our old swingset, which I had made up after doing a little research of what I liked looking at swingset kits (and then reading instructions).  My spacing lands in the middle of the options I saw.

I don't have many pictures of us drilling the holes . Who wants to waddle back in the house for a camera when you're this pregnant? Jon and I worked together, and thanks to three different types of hardware, we had 3 different hole sizes and countersinking requirements.  It was a little ridiculous keeping track of all of it, but we did it perfectly.  All the correct size the first time.

Unlike last time, we not only drilled the holes in the beam before raising it, but installed the hardware on the ground too.  Soooo much easier.  Do this.  You'll be happier.

We decided to go with different hardware for the swings this time.  Home Depot carries a generic brand that is cheaper and stronger (150lbs, instead of 115lbs), so we decided to buy two of those, even though we technically only needed one.   But, because we were only upgrading the swing hangers (not the trapeze bar's hanger), we had to wait until the old beam was down to remove and reinstall the old swing hanger on the new beam.

Plus, we had to wait until our old legs were down, so we could align them with the beam, and drill holes for them using the plates our our guide.  Those too were a different hole size and countersinking.

Lost yet?  Doesn't matter, we'll press on.

I really do like the new swing holders more then the Swing and Slide ones.  They have a bigger bushing and a larger diameter.  Size isn't everything (that's what he said ;) ),  but the fact that it's rated for a higher weight does imply that it is the better choice.

Again, no pictures, as raising the swingset was all-hands-on-deck, but we lifted it up, and got-er-done. Once our beam was up, the kids gave it a test run.  Success!

Our old beam has currently been re-purposed as a balance beam near the slide.  A bit of overkill for a balance beam, but it's nice to reuse it right away.

So with that, we have an expanded swingset.  It's certainly drawn our kids to it 3x times more... and they were already playing with it a lot!

And it didn't cost that much money for the amount of play it gets.  It totaled about $98, when all was added up.
   (1) 4" x 6" x 12' Beam from Lowe's - $24.97
   (2) Lehigh 6" swing hangers, from Home Depot - $4.48 x 2 = $9.97
   (2) Gorilla Swings shipped from Walmart - $27.99 x 2 =  $55.98
   (1) Star Disc Swing Seat, clearance at Lowe's - $7.50

After seeing the cost of our upgrade, I kind of wish we had done it last year.  It only took about 4-5 hours total (slower, of course because I was pregnant), so the time wasn't a big deal.  Well, I suppose I did had a lot of projects in the meantime :)

So where to go from here?  I have found with two swingers we're getting a lot of sway in the house side of the set. So, I still might need to brace a bit. Otherwise, we're set for this year.

Pressing on, our phase 2 plan would address the rotting "prayer house".  Rebuilding for strength and mildly renovating it for function would be our goals. (Don't ask me why the kids call the house, the "prayer house", I have no idea.... but I can tell you I have gotten a whole lot of weird looks from our kids telling strangers about it.)  At that point, almost everything but the slide would be new.

Secondly, we'd look at relocating it on our lawn, and putting down some ground cover that's a little more play safe (softer).  Hard clay packed dirt is not ideal.  Isaac fell off the top of the slide a few days ago.  Some cuts and scratches to his face and tongue, but thankfully broken bones or teeth :(

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our first reveal? Because our Living Room is...

 ... ready to be inspected!  ("Done" seems so final)

So, since this is not-quite-a-reveal, but certainly a goal met, seems fitting to recap and give a GIANT PHOTO OVERLOAD. 

To recap, our plans were to -
  • Build a partition wall - Part 1, Part 2
  • Install recessed lights - Post here
  • Lost of electrical work, New or upgraded switches/outlets, smoke detectors  - TV outlet heremore here
  • Paint the hall, entryway, stairs, living room and kitchen - Post here
  • Install laminate flooring (okay, not in the original plan... but we did it anyway) - Post here
Well, it's clear I don't do a good job documenting our progress in a short, concise way :) Anyway.. without further ado, here's the photo overload of our living room journey.

Here's a view from the office, into the the entryway -
A few months after the move

And from the entry looking out -
Just before construction, last fall
Mid Construction
One of the better views showing our new wall.
Moving in
After painting floors
Framing the wall

Nothing really special done to this side, but the recessed lights, paint, and flooring completely change the feel of the room.

Again, not much of a change.  I centered the clock :D , hung two pictures and made a new TV outlet.

 And just because I can... here's the blow by blow of our living room.
Just a week after moving in
Ripping out the carpet
Painting the floors and giving our room different 'zones' than the previous owners
Recessed lights and partition wall in
All painted (floors going in)
Floors done (office desk waiting on outlets to be added or moved)

And the quick side by side  top by bottom, here's what I'm considering the official before, to our after.
Phew.  Still have time to get that 'nursery' ready!  Only two months left!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Coat hooks and Transitions

We're just about ready for the kind of-sort-of living room "reveal"... but first, lets tie up some loose ends from this post.  Remember these coat hooks?  They needed a little work, as I got them at a garage sale for cheap.

They got a sanding and spray painting..

 and finally hung up!  Just what our entry needed!

And recall these transitions I had had made for both the entryway and the hallway? 

After giving it a dry run, I did decide to cut down the height about 1/8" from the picture above. It hurt our arches just a little too much. It was a tricky little task to lower them at this point, requiring a router and hand planer, but it worked better than I had expected.

Once they were cut down, I stained them.  Boy did the maple not like that stain.  It turned out so blotchy.   Thankfully, we have 'rustic' laminate flooring, and it blends right in.

Here's the hallway...

... and the entryway.

While I wasn't really planning on putting time into making them originally when I installed the floor, I'm glad I did.  It does make the room look so much better than the rough edges we had before.

Once they were in, we could finally build up the trim around our new partition wall.... the last step!  I'll spare you the details, and it's just your typical trimming.

Once the trim was in, the holes got filled, the joints caulked, and all the trim a final coat of paint.

Almost ready for that inspection....

Sunday, August 2, 2015

My 30th!

Last month I turned the big 3-0.  I wasn't planning on going into my birthday with any resolutions, but I came out of it with one.

For my birthday, I had a few simple requests.  I didn't want a party and I wanted to be able to see the outdoors. Both are fairly reasonable.  I've been having heightened anxiety with this pregnancy, and I really didn't want to push it by being around people.  And I actually enjoy the outdoors quite a bit, but I never seem to have enough time ( or willingness) to get out. 

Trouble was, I was 6 months pregnant, and getting too hot or walking far was not an option.  So, we went to a state park with a lake, a beach... and a canoe rental.  Canoeing seemed like the perfect fit.  No walking, nice and cool (we went after swimming on the beach), and we got to explore the lake some.  I don't recall canoeing like this before, but perhaps I did in my teen years...  It was really enjoyable.  We had our lunch in the canoe, and then explored the shore some. 

The kids did great in the canoe. No rocking, no fights... but at one point Isaac really had to go potty.  Looked like we were going to cut our adventure short, when we saw a giant rock we wanted to explore first.  We docked next to.. and funny enough, it was just 50 ft from a state park bathroom!   The adventure got to continue!

Back to the reason I'm sharing this.  Why in the world have I never done this before?  This sort of thing I've put on the back burner, partially for the sake of putting my own wants aside for my family, partially because of my anxiety.

No more.

I want my thirties to reflect the things that I know I enjoy and want to experience. Hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, canoeing, camping, archery, bonfires, art and fun.  We're gonna do it.  And despite being pregnant,  I'm already starting.   These pictures were actually taken on my second canoe ride this summer :)