Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Building a Playset Part 2 - The Floor

Continuing on with the playset building...

We built a base.

Now we have a floor.

We are using used lumber from Grandpa's old deck, so that determined the way our floorboards ran. The floorboards are cut to the shorter length (6 foot). The floor is made of 2x6 boards. This playset is pretty sturdy and heavy, which is good because we get some serious winds here.

The floor was easy enough, I didn't even have to rip any boards. The kids and I were able to do it on our own and Biker Boy just checked our screws later on. I used 17 full width boards and they ended up being spaced every so slightly on the 6x8 base. This isn't going to be an airtight fort, but that's okay. We plan to put an outdoor rug over the floor at some point. Something we can vacuum or take out and hose down.

Up next...windows! Spoiler: You can see a frame for the window in the photo above.

I'm starting to call this playset "My Fort!" I seem to be doing a majority of the work on it, so I think I'm going to play in it. Or decorate it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Building a Playset Part 1 - The Base

We took down our decade old cedar playset and we're building a new one. It's going to be larger. And it's going to be a lot of work.

We are using wood that was from a deck from the kids' grandparents down the street. That has saved us a bunch of money and also contributed to the design.

First up....The Base.

Here's a Sketchup view of what we used to design, plan, and help build the playset. We still have to put on the swingset part and the plan doesn't show some of the structural additions we made.

The structure is sitting on our septic field, so we can't dig into the ground and anchor it with concrete. We had 6 concrete pavers, so we leveled the ground and placed those down. Since wood will absorb water from concrete, we placed metal spacers between the wood and concrete.

The base consists of 6 vertical 2x6 boards. Those are connected by 2x6 stringers that are 2 feet off the ground. Why off the ground? Snakes. Water. Snakes.

We used a level and right-angle square tool to get everything square, straight, and level (even if it doesn't look like it in the photo!). Rather than measure 2 feet up from the ground to place the outside horizontal boards, we used the level. We were given some floor joist holders, so we utilized those to put in two floor joists. We are doing our best to work with bent and warped boards, and so far it's working. We will cut the vertical boards to size later on. The right side will be 10 feet and the left will be 9. That means the fort will be 8 feet tall and slope down to 7 feet tall. The roof will be angled.

To strengthen the whole playset we installed 4 angle boards cut at 45 degrees. That made the playset sturdy! We will be installing more angles as we go along.  Angles are good!

Next up...the floor!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer Happenings

Hello!  Long time, no see.

I think my lack of posting attests to how busy I have been.

Here are some things we are up to:

We're into summer break, but that means I'm planning out next year. I'm actually behind and starting to fret about it. My kids will be in 7th and 5th grade this next school year. We're planning on using some of the same curriculum as last year and changing a few things up. We're going to be trying NOEO Science this year. We'll be doing Chemistry.

Summer Vacation
The kids and I took one trip to visit the newest cousin. That was fantastic!  And I got to take photographs of the baby! We also just got back from our biggest family vacation ever. The kids are at a great age to take a long road trip and Biker Boy had some vacation to use. We took a 17 day road trip to Oregon and camped in our Aliner! It's amazing how short 2 weeks can be when you want to cram a bunch of things in. We rode an old train in Chama, went to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and stopped near Park City, UT to bike. We stayed near Hood River, OR and went rafting on the White Salmon River with River Drifters, visited Lost Lake, and did lots of hiking. We went to Silver Falls State Park and hiked the Trail of Ten Falls. We spent a day at the coast and went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. We went to Crater Lake National Park and made a stop at the Redwoods before driving through the California desert to get home. Oh, another bonus was that we can still use the free pass for fourth graders to get into National Parks and Federal land! Even after 2 weeks in our smaller camper together, we could have kept going. We had a great time together and didn't annoy each other too bad. I think we could be professional vacationers.  The trip was full of epic memories that the kids will hopefully remember always. Oh, we bought an inflatable kayak that we brought with us. It was cheaper than renting one for a day! And we can take us with it to other places.

Summer Project 1
I wanted the kids to have a project to keep them busy this summer. I'm starting to think we may have bit off more than we can chew. We're tearing down our nearly decade old swing-set and we are designing and building a new fort/swing-set. The kids have been dismantling the old one. Now they are trying to learn Sketchup to design a new one. And the fact that it's hot out, means we can only work in the morning and evenings. Maybe if we get it done I'll post the plans. We actually started building the skeleton of it yesterday. The nearby Grandpa was kind enough to donate used lumber from his old deck and windows from when his house was remodeled, so we're utilizing those. We're also reusing some hardware and swingset parts from the old set. It's going to be a 6x8 fort and the ceiling will be 8 foot tall at the high end and 7 foot at the short, so the kids should be able to use it for awhile. The last playset lasted a decade, so hopefully the new one will too. If the kids don't use it, I'll make it my she shed!

Summer Project 2
I bought a Blue Snowball for a good deal and the kids have been having fun playing with the microphone and the free software Audacity. They especially love to put effects on their voices. The boy plays the guitar, so he wants to record some of his own original music.  We may even try to make a music video. I think I may be a wee bit over ambitious.

Summer Project 3
The kids have soccer camp this week. I had lofty goals to repaint the bathroom and laundry room and do a little landscaping. Scratch all that. I'll be lucky if I finish planning the school year.

Car Problems
It seems like they always come at once. We have a 2011 Mazda CX9. It was great up until 100,000 miles. Then it fell apart. It seems all the warranties that were extended to 90,000 miles for safety issues, hit us after the car got to 100,000. We had the transfer case replaced (it had to go in twice for that!) and my husband has replaced the rear wheel bearings. All that was done before our road trip. Biker Boy and Scooter replaced the transfer case fluid and oil when we got back from our trip. On our road trip the brake booster went out, so my car is in the shop for that right now. Luckily, I had read the safety bulletin online before we left, so it wasn't too surprising when the brakes didn't work correctly. Luckily my husband was driving and was strong enough to manually push the brakes. We feel blessed that we were able to get home safely. Now we have to replace the front struts, replace the transmission fluid, and get new tires. Looks like we'll be having some car repair classes for the kids in addition to structural engineering (building a play fort).

Now I should go plan some school for next year! Happy week everyone!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Frozen Themed Birthday Party

Some little girl I know turned ten recently!  Time sure does fly.  We had a lovely family celebration and then a casual party with friends at a local park.  We kept things simple, because the kids mostly love to play together.  The girl wanted a Frozen theme and we put together some activities and favor bags.  The girl is a crafty one, so she put most of it together!

Rather than cupcakes, we had simple food.  The girl made icicles, which were pretzel rods covered in white chocolate and sprinkled with sugar.  Then we had cake pops that girl made.  She made chocolate cake pops with a cake pop pan, covered them in dark chocolate, and then swirled some melted butterscotch on top. Each treat was individually wrapped for easy serving.  For those that couldn't make it and didn't want to eat it then, the treats were easy to take home.  We also served strawberries.

To counteract all the sugar, we chose to serve water, rather than juice.  We printed off a premade label that said "melted snow" and the girl put them on the water bottles.

We had a bag of goodies or party favors for each kid.  The bag contained bubbles with a label that also said "melted snow", a glider to play with, a crown for the girls, a paper fan that the girl made, and a bag of Hershey Kisses with a label we made that says "I wanna stuff some chocolate in my face."

The biggest hit for the kids were the swords that we made.  The girl called them "Prince Hans swords," but most kids liked to think of them as light sabers.  We used pool noodles from the dollar store and I cut them in half.  The girl put duct tape at the bottom for a handle.  I printed off each kids' name with  my label maker and we labeled each sword.  That kept fighting and crying to a minimum (other than when someone got hit hard or accidentally in the face).  We had rules that they could only hit below the neck and could only hit someone who was also playing.  It was crazy with a dozen kids swatting swords around.  I learned that next time I should make all the moms swords also!  In addition to the party favor bags, we had chalk for the kids to draw with.

I figured if the kids were getting favor bags, that the moms would need favor bags too.  So we made up some "Mommy Bags" with some treats to get the moms through all the kid craziness.  Each mom got 8 chocolates and a bottle of frappuccino.  I chilled the drinks so that we could all enjoy them on the warm day while the kids ran around hitting each other with their foam swords.  The "Mommy Bags" were a big hit!

For the birthday celebration at home, we had strawberry cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.  The girl frosted and decorated her own cupcakes.

Happy Birthday to my sweet ten-year-old!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Annual Valentine's Funny Photo

This is our annual Valentine tradition since 2011.  This is our 7th year of making a funny face photo of the kids.  And I can't get over how grown up they look in this year's photo!  Where are my red chubby cheeked kiddos?  (Note to family:  We mailed you your magnets!  You should be getting them soon.)

Here is this year's box of chocolates funny face Valentine photo:

And here are the previous years:  (Cue the tears...and bunny bear made an appearance in first year's photo.)

I print the photo as a 2x3 magnet at MPix.  For the last three years I have used the same template.  I've made a photoshop template and just pop the photos in.  It's pretty easy now.  The kids take selfies with my camera.  We pick out 12 of their favorites each, I pop the photos into the template and that's it.  I hardly touch up the photos.  I may adjust light, but that's it.  This year we went with faces close up, compared to the previous years.  Next year we'll probably go back to photos that aren't as close, since we all agreed we like that better.

If anyone wants the template, let me know.  I can put it up in a different post.  Otherwise, you can always make your own.  Happy Valentine's Day!  Do you have any annual Valentine's traditions? We also make an I Love You Pizza every year....or an "Olive" pizza.  Get it...olive...i love!  We make a heart shaped pizza with olives on it.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Favorite Places to Visit on the Internet

Blogging time here has become minimal due to life going in fast forward.  Seriously, why does it go faster as the kids get older?

Speaking of kids...we've found a few websites that we've enjoyed in homeschooling this year.  Maybe you know of them or want to check them out.

Scratch - The kids have been learning computer coding this year.  We started with Scratch and they loved it.  They even request to use it during non-school hours.  We have now moved on to Python, but Scratch was a great place to start.

Code - The kids also love Code.org.  They started with an Hour of Code.  The boy loves the Minecraft version and the girl loves the Frozen version.  Again, they request this during non-school hours too.

Kindle Scout - I've just recently discovered this.  You get to nominate up to 3 books at a time.  If the book you nominated is published, you get it for free.  The books are up for 30 days, so you can have a rotating list of books that you are nominating.  So far I'm at 0% for the books I have nominated that have been chosen to be published by Kindle.  Hopefully someone will get published!  But most of the authors have self-published on Amazon, so that's great.  You just need an Amazon account to be able to nominate books.  Check it out!

Where have you been cruising too on the Internet lately?

That's all I've got for today.  Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

DIY Christmas Gifts & Goodies

It's a busy time of the year.  If you're looking for some last minute goodies or gifts, here's some that I have made in the past.

Here's the links to those posts on my blog:
What are you making this Christmas season?  I'm going to try and make some baklava!


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