Build a Play House They Said…

From hardware store lumber piles to makeshift hammock in just a few days.  2x4s have some weird journeys.  This week started out with a rather excited grandfather dropping off boards late Monday night and has come to a conclusion of “that’s the last big project for a while”.  Tremendous fun, but it is hot.  In Friday’s Steampunk DIY Post I wrote of my excitement for warm and sunny weather.  How wrong I was.

Some very important lessons were learned this week.  One of them was never let a four year old carry paint cans, even if you think they’re empty.  No, escpecially if you think they are empty.

Adding a new section to the existing playground thing in the backyard was a surprisingly involved process.  My father in law had a very clear vision for the project and the rest of us were there to bring it to fruition.  There’s always more “check for level” and overly complex engineering involved than I would prefer, but the end is result is a very neat playground that will not collapse on my children.  For that reason, we follow the father in law’s lead.

The goal of the project was two fold; first, add a bridge that moved.  The first born loves this stuff.  The second was to provide some extra shady spots for kids in the backyard.  Not like, “hey kids, there’s heroin back here!” shady, but blocked from the sun. Both objectives were met and if not for some low hanging boards, I would spend some lunch hours on this thing.  But I do not like concussing myself while eating burritos.  Call me crazy.

We did learn some stuff about summer outdoor projects.

Dust masks are still needed.

If you are working with an existing structure, expect bugs.  So many bugs.  It was like Starship Troops under the old ramp.

Bug spray and sun screen; apply in the morning and again at lunch.

Water all the time.  Drink like a pirate that fears heat stroke.

Make shade.  We actually added an umbrella post to the existing structure today.  It has stood for four years without any real mid-day shade device.  I am terrible at this protective parent thing.

Clean as you go.  Much like working in a kitchen, but there are power tools.  Also nothing goes on the grass ever.  The baby (now toddler I think, he’s standing on his own for whole tens of seconds now!) has a magnet installed somewhere within his tiny little body that just takes him right to the sharpest tools in the grass.  We quickly learned that “if not in use, put it somewhere the small children won’t step on it youse”  The phrase needs work.

Children will want to help and they will not understand the concept of wet paint at first.  Kids wear grungy clothing.  And then write some amazing music.

Children should not be present if you expect to get anything done.

Children will throw curve balls at the project and results could be wonderful.  Here are three progress pictures to play a really easy spot the difference game with:

The existing unit is the one with color and life and a slide and all things that make the early years splendid.  The new smells amazing though.


Picture two.  Pretty much complete.  Check out that bridge!  The paint is dry and the kids can walk on it…boy oh boy, things are looking good.


Picture three.  The new platform has guard rails in place, just needs pickets now.  And oh look at that, the bridge is all colorful.

I foolishly let the four year old carry a paint can.  I thought it was empty.  There were empty paint cans all around, but he picked the one can of bright green paint that was simply mostly empty.  He was a few steps into the bridge when it slipped from his grasp and the lid popped off.  Quick thinking on his grandma’s part saved most of the spilled paint and my very intelligent wife suggested painting the boards the three colors that appeared every where else.  I cursed my negligence and the baby and I sat at the sandbox.  It was a rough way to start the day.

By the end of it all though, the unit was done.  Well, the structure is put together there are some small things to be added yet.

When the weather is cooler.

The last lesson of the day was trying to use the panorama feature of my phone’s camera.  I totally understand all those “panorama fail” photos on the web.  Not easy to do.  Here’s the jist of the entire unit.  Sunshade, bridge, swing set; all of those exist in the real thing.  The wonky, curving in on itself Tim Burton-esque structure around the slide is actually quite straight.  I should get a real photo of the thing.  Or maybe the next project is to build a Tim Burton-esque wonky house!

But, when the weather cools down.


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