Sunday, May 31, 2009

If I ever say I'm going to buy another swingset...

... please make sure I hire someone to put it together.

Let me say first off... I'm pretty good at putting things together. I get it from my dad. I can dump a pile of stuff out of a box and put it together without even glancing at the directions. Just give me my power drill with screwdriver attachments and no one can stop me.

Swingsets, however, are the newest bane of my existence.

Let's start at the beginning...

We move into a new house. We have a yard. We have 2 small kids. Let's get a swingset!

MomMom and PopPop generously offer to buy the set. We take them up on it and pick out a set we want. Conveniently it goes on sale, I rent a truck and go purchase it. Woohoo, we're getting a swingset! Right?

The directions claim that it take 2 people 8 to 10 hours to assemble. Pssshhh. I'm good at putting stuff together, no way it'll take that long! However, I'm perfectly aware that there's no way that Eric and I could assemble the set ourselves with Jack running around and Gracie needing to be watched. So I ask my parents and sister if they would be kind enough to come help. Make it a swingset-putting-together-party. It'll be fun!

Turns out that Monday, Memorial Day is a good day for us all to get together after having the swingset in the garage for 2 weeks, forcing me to park my car in the driveway. Gasp.

We bought a new patio set and a grill the same day as the swingset so I was making it a Memorial-Day-Swingset-Putting-Together-and-have-a-barbeque day. What fun! We have 5 adults, with at least one person watching a child. And the directions only call for 2. This will be a snap!

10:00 am sorting of materials has begun. I had wanted to do this ahead of time but never had a moment. The weekend had been full of chores and a trip to Sesame Place.

12:00 pm sorting is complete. 2 hours? Really? Better have lunch and we'll be able to start off strong on the actual building. Yummy grilled hamburgers and hotdogs! And those Mike's Hard Pomegranate Lemonades really hit the spot!

1:00 we begin. They have us assemble the rock wall first. That was easy! Next?

1:20(ish) we start the A-frame of the swingset and the supporting beam.

2:30(ish) What did that say? These holes aren't lining up. Somebody go re-read those directions. $&$*#^@%^@*$ Ok, let's undo it and start over.

3:30(ish) Ok, on to the structure of the tree house. Yay! The main piece. Wait, is it really 3:30? What does that say? Does that say we really need to drill our own holes? Shouldn't the holes already be there forcing all the pieces to level out?

6:00 pm Yes, 6pm the tree house frame is standing. It's really crooked, but it's standing. Um, don't we have to go to work tomorrow? Hey, are you guys free next Saturday to come help again? Pretty please. Of course, this is the clean version of what was said. I was quite angry, frustrated and tired.

End day one. Technically it was 8 hours but 2 hours was sorting and one hour was lunch, so we'll call it 5 hours of actual assembly. Fortunately the kids were great. Jack played with his chalks on the sidewalk or with his wagon. We brought out a blanket and some toys for Gracie so she didn't care what the rest of us were doing. And amazingly, Jack only asked once or twice about when the swingset would be done. Good boy.

Fast forward to day two, Saturday, May 30.

10:00 am. Someone has the forethought to try to level the treehouse before we start any more building. So we outline the treehouse on the ground where we want it and trench under the high side to sink it into the ground and level it off. Jack sees us working with dirt so he goes for his shovel and bucket and proceeds to do his "work" moving dirt from one spot to another in my flower beds. That's fine because he's keeping himself busy.

10:30 am. *sigh* Did we really just lose half an hour of work just leveling out the treehouse? That's what we get for being a family of perfectionists. It MUST be perfect. This is where normal people would have saved a lot of time. On to the floor of the treehouse. Still have some enthusiasm here because I'm fully expecting this to take half a day. So... YAY!

11:30 am. Floor in. One wall in. So. Very. Thirsty. Let's stop for lunch, then we'll finish up. Mmmmmm, more grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and a couple really charred sausages for Eric. Oops.

12:30 pm. Back to work! Let's finish this puppy up! Another wall in, an upper wall in, and the little decorative windows in.

1:30 pm. 1:30? Really? I thought we were supposed to be finishing up and drinking Red Dawn martinis by now. *sigh* Let's do the bench and table.

2:30 pm. Jack's up from his nap and he likes his table! It's really starting to take shape. Let's keep working on this roof frame. I swear I followed directions for putting the sunburst tarp up but look, it doesn't reach the bottom of the frame. Who's got the screwdriver?

3:30 pm. Time to put the roof tarp on! Woohoo! It's really looking like a swingset now! We'll still have time for those martinis! Um wait, this doesn't line up quite right.

3:40 pm. The slide is on. Repeat. The slide IS on.

Oh boy, it's time to connect the swing beam to the treehouse. This ought to be interesting. Huh? The holes in the two parallel beams aren't lining up. How are we supposed to get a long screw through those and another beam if they aren't lining up.

5:00 pm. For the safety of my readers I will skip the swearing, cursing, hammering and tempers that managed to finally attach that beam.

5:01 pm. Hey Jack, the swings are up. The shear joy and excitement on his face makes it all *almost* worth it. But wait! There's still like 7 more steps to finish. There goes that high I had.

Hold on, does anyone else see how un-level the swing beam is? More trenching under the A-frame.

5:20 pm. Rope wall. Phew, an easy step. Who knows how to tie a solid knot? Dad, you were in the Navy, didn't you have to know how to tie knots? What are we supposed to do with these zip ties?

Um, it's getting kind of late. Thank goodness it's Saturday and not Sunday. Should I order a pizza?

5:59 pm. Yes, that's almost 6pm but it's not. We're done. Jack is swinging, Gracie is swinging, tools are gathered (but not put away). We're freaking done.

So 5 assembly hours on day 1. If I subtract out lunch time and trenching time on day 2 we had another 6 hours of assembly. Let me remind you, that we had 5 adults. Now, one adult was always watching the kids and another adult was part time watching kids and part time helping with assembly. 3 adults were full time assembly and it still took 11 hours. That doesn't include the 2 hours wasted sorting parts. Explain to me again why the parts can't be labeled during the manufacturing process? I mean, they know what's they're making, would it really be that hard to slap a stamp on the end of a piece of wood? So 13 hours excluding lunches and trenching. 16 hours all in all. 16 freaking hours. 16. Sixteen. Perhaps it wouldn't have been so long if all holes had been drilled, all instructions had been clear and all holes had lined up once assembled.

But I digress.

It's together.

It's solid.

Jack loves it.

I'll never put another swingset together in my lifetime. That's what handymen are paid for.

And now, for pictures:

Day 1:

Day 2:

I have to pause to make sure that you notice that it is Nana in the wagon that Jack is pulling here:

Apparently mommy's little dare-devil's like the swing going high!


I'll only briefly mention that we put the "rocks" on the rock wall upside down. I fixed that the next day. Once more I blame the instructions. We followed the instructions.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

They hear everything...

(post dated 5/7, actually posted 11/21)

... and use it against us.

Me: "Jack, come to dinner."
Me: "Jack, it's dinner time, come sit down."
Me: "Jack."
Jack: "Mommy, give me a break, I want to finish my puzzle."

Days later he told me something and I must have either answered wrong or heard wrong so he says to me "Mommy, pay attention."

Eric's latest favorite is him using the phrase "Last but not least".

Ah, the 3 1/2 year old. They are their own creature.

Monday, May 4, 2009

That darn gravity

(Post dated 5/4, actually posted (11/21)

Here we are. Gracie is 8 months old, hasn't said her first word yet but she WANTS to walk!

She started the army crawl (on belly, using arms to pull herself) the day before Easter (4/11)
Started "walking" holding someones hands on 4/13
Finally (consistently) crawled on her knees this saturday (5/2)
Started pulling herself up on objects on saturday (5/2)
Started doing a little bit of cruising on sunday (5/3).

So she's in a hurry.

But here's the funny part. She fully expects that she should be able to walk. She'll be standing up leaning on something and just let go. Then she's surprised that she's on the floor instead of where she expected to be. It's the funniest thing to watch.


Ug, I'm so far behind. How do the rest of you find time to blog constantly? I guess I'm just to wrapped up with work, kids, dinner, chores, lawn that blogging just falls behind.

So apologies. I'm going to try to catch up. Bear with me...

Just know that I tend to post-date everything...

The small stuff matters!

(post dated to 5/4, actually posted 11/21)

We need to slow down and pay attention. Sometimes there is just so much to do and we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off and we just don’t see the little things. We’re always running errands, getting ready for work, trying to get dinner together. Life is crazy and we need to just step back.

Gracie will be my last baby and sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on her infanthood. The little things about her infanthood anyway. Sure, I’ll remember the crawling and the walking and the first time she says “mama” or “dada” (we’re still waiting kiddo). But will I remember the way she grabs onto the back to Eric’s head when he runs her around the kitchen making her “fly”? Will I remember the way she lights up when I go to wake her up in the morning?

Here are Gracie’s “little things” that I don’t want to forget:

Sucking her thumb in between spoonfuls of food at dinnertime.

We may get giggles and laughs but only Jack can get the true belly laughs out of her.

She grabs onto the back of Eric’s head when he runs her around the kitchen making her “fly”. (listed again for good measure)

She lights up and smiles with delight when I go to wake her up in the morning.

She’ll grab onto cloths and massage your arm until it hurts when she’s trying to go to sleep in your arms.

She smothers herself in some sort of cloth and sucks her thumb when she’s trying to go to sleep.

She sucks her bottom lip in when she’s working on a tooth.

She squeals with delight is one of the cats walks by.

If I’m cradling her in my arms and she has to see what’s going on in the room she’ll just hang her head upside down over my arm.

She is NOSEY!

She splashes in the tub like it’s nobody’s business!

I’m sure I’ll think of tons more later.