Thursday, June 16, 2011

Delusions of Granduer

There are times in you life when you are able to complete a task and it brings you not only satisfaction but that feeling of great accomplishment. Creating something with your own two hands, building a gift for your children that they will love and appreciate for years to come. This was not one of those times.

Achievement, accomplishment, completion, conquest, triumph, victory ...yeah right, it was more like defeat, failure, forfeit, and misfortune.

My husband's knee surgery was scheduled and approaching fast. Everyday we chipped away at our list of things that could not be done while he was recovering. He worked his tushy off the last couple of weeks. He built me two planter boxes that I requested for Mother's day (and he bought me a beautiful diamond necklace too! Sorry ladies, he's mine!) and then we got the idea of the play structure for the two younger kids. Now when I say 'we' got the idea, I mean me.

Pack your bags we are going on a side trip...

We bought a play structure, not swing set. I had a swing set when I was a kid. They were metal and tubular. There were holes in the 4 corner legs for anchors to secure the swing set to the ground, but who used those? If you got swinging high enough you could get one, maybe even two legs to jump off the ground. That was the challenge.

The slide was part of the swing set, an important part. Without the slide, chances are the whole thing would've fallen over as you swung forward. There were 2 swings, a bar in the middle, and a teeter totter thing that actually was a lot of fun if you had someone to do it with you. I am thinking back to all the time we spent on our swing set and I am amazed we didn't slice our hands open going down the slide  (because they were rather sharp metal sides not fancy plastic). I am amazed that two of us could swing at the same time and it didn't just snap in half. And I am still confused as to the purpose of that square bar in the middle. All you could do was hang off it. What was the point of that? I mean if you were serious about your bar skills you had to use a very stationary and strong bar. So I personally think that they ran out of stuff to put on the swing set and needed something to plug the hole.

Okay, so anyway we go the play structure at Costco. I did some research before hand to make sure we weren't throwing away money. Turned out that the one at Costco was a great deal for the quality and size.
On Sunday evening we go in and get this monstrosity. Someone was thinking ahead because they had the boxes all divided and loaded onto those giant carts parked under the demonstration model. Easy enough right? Pull out the preloaded cart, push it up to the register, pay, load it in the truck, and head home. Well we thankfully had a cashier who pays attention. We had two #6 boxes and no #2 box. (There were 6 boxes. One box was not too big, it contained all the hardware and such. But the other 5 boxes were huge). We only came in to buy this one item and wouldn't you know it, the 2.5 year old was freaking out,  wanting to climb all over the boxes and open them up. I can usually make it through Costco in about 45 minutes and he starts getting antsy towards the end. But not this time, so I headed out to the truck while my husband patiently waited for the employees to figure out how to switch one of the #6 boxes out for a #2 box. About 45 minutes later my husband was heaving this cart towards the truck. We began to load the boxes in the truck.

Let me just say thank you to the very nice tire guy who saw a very incapable woman trying to help her husband load huge boxes into the back of a truck and was so sweet to not just come over to help but he ran over to help. So the strong men get the boxes loaded and now all that's left is to take it home and put it together. How exciting!

So this is late Sunday evening, my husbands knee surgery is Thursday morning. On the way home we get hit with a huge thunderstorm. Even if he could have dealt with the pouring rain, its really not safe to be outside putting together a 12 foot play structure with ground strike lightening going on. So, my husband said I will start on it tomorrow after work.

Another side trip...

I love thunder and lightening storms! My husband shakes his head and thinks I am a bit off when it comes to my weather related excitement. He grew up in Pennsylvania and is quite used to the type of weather we have here in Virginia. I however grew up in northern, northern California. It rains 60% of the year and the rest of the time its foggy. There is no exciting weather. No snow storms, no hurricanes, no nor Easters, no tornadoes, and our thunderstorms are lame. We have earthquakes though! Okay, that's a whole other subject. 
So I love when we have the severe weather and I get very disappointed when they skip over us or break up before hitting us. I have an addiction to checking the radar on the weather channel application on my IPhone. Honestly if I am in town (15 miles away) that's when there is a big storm. I will come home and everything will be wet and blown around. My husband will say, you just missed a pretty nasty thunderstorm. The thunder shook the house and knocked out the dish (or Internet, or whatever). And every time I am pissed that I missed it!

The one week we have serious outside work to do in a short amount of time what do you think happens? Yep, severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings, non stop heavy rain, and huge thunderstorms with lots of ground strike lightening. So my poor husband had to work around this weather for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday trying desperately to get this play structure put together.

Monday afternoon, my husband is outside opening boxes, reading directions, scratching his head, and pacing a lot. I finally get an opportunity to go out and check on the progress. There is a huge diagram and a 40 page book of directions. Wow they weren't kidding around with the serious technicality of it all. EXCEPT of the 2,000 pieces (and I am not exaggerating) in the 6 boxes none of them are labeled. Nope, none of them. Well the slide pieces are obviously the slide pieces and the swings are obviously the swings but all those wooden boards....not a mark on them!

There is this wonderful diagram that lists every piece in the box, with a picture of what the piece looks like, the dimensions, the quantity of the pieces, and the identifying number that goes along with each piece. And in the 40 page booklet identifies each piece with the numbers listed on this chart. But there are no labels on the wood pieces themselves!

Have you ever tried to put together a puzzle upside down? Well imagine if that was a 3-D puzzle that was 12 feet high. This was my husbands challenge. And every time he got some kind of rhythm down, BAM, thunderstorm!

After about 2 hours of piecing things together and trying to identify parts my husband began to feel horrible and got a migraine headache with all the bells and whistles. So off to bed he was sent with medicine and lots of water.

That creek like area isn't a creek, its just part of
our backyard.

Tuesday afternoon he began to work on it again. Our back yard began looking like we had a creek running threw it. It had been raining since Sunday evening non-stop. My husband is working hard and about 3 hours into his work he comes in cursing and breathing heavily. He had injured his hand. The tip of his pointer finger on his left hand got stuck between a bolt and the board while the drill was putting it into place. It took the tip of his finger off. It didn't get his fingernail, it was just beyond that. So I cleaned it up, bandaged it, gave him some meds, and sent him on his way to continue working. (Later I would here the same story over and over of how I took care of him and then sent him back to work one handed. Sigh.) By the way his hand is completely healed.

By Wednesday evening the rain hadn't stopped. I was able to go out and help him because one of the older girls played with the 2.5 year old for me. I seemed to be more in the way than a help. So I decided to start labeling pieces. I used a white oil crayon to mark the pieces. It had stopped raining for awhile which made things much easier. So I manage to label about I would say maybe 100 pieces of wood for my husband and put them into stacks according to their category. BAM! Another huge thunderstorm is coming. We are both outside so we continue working, as it is getting closer and closer, the rain is getting heavier and heavier. Just as I come to the conclusion it is time to get out of the danger zone for us both, I notice that the white oil crayon is rinsing off of the boards I have labeled. Well Hell!

We go inside and as we both sigh, I asked my husband, "How much do you think Don (our carpenter who does handyman work) would charge us to put this together?" The idea is a pleasant relief to my husband who immediately goes out and calls Don. He comes back in from making the call and tells me that he will do it but won't be able to come out until the end of the next week. Sign, okay. At least it will get put together and our kids will be able to play on it this summer.

So this is the time my husband realizes he will not be putting this structure together. There will be no feelings satsatisfaction or years down the road bragging rights of the huge accomplishment he was able to achieve by single handedly (ha ha little pun there) putting his children's play structure together. But at this point I think my husband was perfectly okay with that,
My husbands knee surgery went well. (We hope it was successful. we won't know for a few months). It rained for 2 more days. And honestly since then, I have missed every thunderstorm that has occurred here at home.

Day one of professional assembly
Our carpenter Don is a very nice guy. He brought a helper with him on a Friday morning. I showed them where everything was, handed him the huge diagram and the 40 page instruction booklet and I left them alone. It took his helper and himself almost 7 hours to get this far (see photo on right) husband had managed to get the lower level done all by himself and one handed (as I am reminded).

I was disappointed when they let me know they had to call it a day and would be back sometime the next week. We had 2.5 year old and an 8 year old asking every hour when it would be done. But they did show up that next week, I think on Thursday. And it wasn't an easy job. So I managed the children.

As it went together it became easier and easier to build since there were less and less parts to have to choose from. He said it was like a puzzle. So after 2 days of hard work in the hot sun they completed the play structure.

Haley got home and ran from the bus to our backyard. She was so excited to see the swings up and the slide going up. She wanted to be out there with them while they finished it. I of course was a mean mommy and refused. There is nothing quite like an 8 year olds constant questioning to slow down the work and stall things. Don finally came to the back door and asked if she could come out and test everything. I could barely contain her. She shot out the backdoor and was on that set in no time.

Everything worked out well, despite all the leftover hardware. Hmmmm, why is it men seem to think that leftover hardware is no big deal and us women are the ones who seriously question the reasoning behind random numbers of leftover parts? Regardless, the structure was complete. It is sturdy, attractive, and fun. All the things we were hoping for.

Ms. Haley and Don with the finished product!
 Now I have promised Don to not write down how much he charged us to put this play structure together. Lets just say we got a great deal and Don learned how much to quote on future projects of this type. Of course if the parts are labelled it wouldn't have taken so long. Thanks Cedar Summit for the extra work!

If you are in the Fredericksburg area and need a great contractor Don Anderson is your guy. He has done many different things for us, all of which turned out great. He is reliable, personable, and skilled. Thanks Don for your hard work! The kids love the play structure.


  1. Wheeee, I love slides. Likely my fat bottom would get stuck so I guess I'll have to let it go.

  2. Just stopping by from Locomotion of Expressions! Found you on a blog hop! Now following! Please follow me via GFC back and lets grow each others ratings!! Cute stuff! xo
    I'm a navy wife (submariner) and I am a pull no punches kinda girl. I say whats on my mind, and that's just me!
    I have a lot of active giveaways RIGHT NOW! (13 at last count! .. all low entry!) So drop on over and follow because there are many more to come, plus I blog about our life too! (When I have the time!) Ty for reading this, have a great night!

  3. great blog!!!!

    stay at home mom of 5? I have 1! how do you do it :)??

    following you from catch a wave hop!
    would love for you to stop by and enter the blog bash giveaway I'm hosting!

  4. New follower from the hop! Hope you can hop by and follow back!!

  5. new follower from hop

    love this i am so with you about storms i love them!! we live where there are tornados so far we have not had any in our town is it wrong to want one to roll thru? its not that i want my home destroyed but i think it would be a cool experince oh well weird i guess lol

  6. What an amazing swing set! Sounds like you had quite the time.

    Just wanted to say thank you for joining our Welcome Wednesday blog hop! We hope to see you stop by weekly and even maybe enter some of our giveaways and check out our freebies & deals! We are so happy to be new followers of your blog and can't wait to come back! You are more than welcome to grab our special Welcome Wednesday button which will link you directly to our hop each week & that also helps spread the word about our great event!

    Kristin & Jaime
    Take It From Me