On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Saturday, June 6, 2009

All It Takes Is a Few Common Household Tools!

Like all the other dads out there, we want the best for our kids. As Caedmon’s 3rd birthday and Libby’s 1st birthday were nearing, I thought to myself, what should they get as presents this year? All too often we gullible parents think we have finally found another great toy that we read has been so highly recommended and rated (one that the manufacturers would have us oh so willing parents believe would stimulate creativity and development, and turn our little ones into future geniuses just by the sheer act of playing with their latest and greatest inventions, of course!) only to have it played with for a few minutes and then be forgotten about and relegated to the bottom of the toy basket or closet. I came up with the idea of getting a playground set (playfort / play-yard or whatever these things are called). I wanted to get something Caedmon & Libby could grow into and have years of fun with, as well as to ease the daily burden for Lynette when she is busy running the household. We have a great park not too far from us, but it is nice to know that when time/scheduling constraints interfere, she can just take Caedmon & Libby out the back door and have a mini-park right there. I consulted with my wife and somehow managed to convince her that the benefits to our children's childhood years of any monstrosity I envisioned to erect in our tiny space of a backyard would outweigh any potential downsides when and if it ever came time to sell our home. I put in my research time on these so called jungle gyms as any good dad should and finally decided upon one. Of course I diligently took into account all sorts of things like... size of the structure (given our limited backyard space), how it would fit given our slightly downward sloping landscaping – essentially meaning that re-grading a huge portion of our backyard might be a real possibility, wood vs plastic vs steel, cost, splintering vs durability vs corrosion, cost, chemically treated materials vs natural materials, cost, how hot the Texas sun would impact ability of play vs the shading in our yard during the various times of the day given our house’s relationship to orbit of the sun, cost, old style vs newer styles, cost, residential vs commercial appearance, cost, did I mention cost yet? Well, in the long run, cost lost out to the “coolness factor” because the one I chose was really really "cool" ... (in other words, really really COOL = costing a good deal of $$ within reason, because there are custom play structures out there that can cost almost as much as a real house)! Besides the website said that this 800 lb gorilla could be simply put together in just one day with a few common household tools... and BTW, did you also know that "really really cool" = "I will believe whatever the website says"?!? Now, while I would like to be handy at things, I don’t really find that I have time or the interest to be handy at things. But if all it took were just some common household tools, well… a somewhat handy-wannabe like myself could do it, right? Thank goodness for my father-in-law who was all too willing to help tackle this project for his grandchildren as well. When the playfort arrived in the Fed-Ex truck, I was on-call that day. Without Gary’s help (he ended up extending his visit several days by rebooking his airline ticket for his return trip to Pittsburgh), the delivery guy could never have unloaded the parts (did I mention all 800 lbs of them?) and the really really cool playfort would never have been assembled so readily. The main structure took 2 full days - through rain on day 1 and hot Texas sunshine on day 2 (plus a few more days to tweak the final smaller pieces into place), 2 cordless drills with 3 rechargeable batteries in rotation, 1 rubber mallet, hundreds of screws to drill through steel pipes and plastic collars and caps (it was unbelievable to us that the various pieces did not come with pre-drilled screw holes!), lots of studying the very scant instruction papers and diagrams, lots of re-study and re-inventing on how to reconfigure the structure to fit our landscaping and backyard space, lots of digging, lots of ground leveling, a few wheel-barrow trips to carry and dump North Texas dirt/clay (which I discovered was really really heavy) to the still as yet unbuilt upon empty lot next to ours, a few trips to Home Depot to buy miscellaneous materials which we discovered we needed along the way when we had to re-engineer some of the parts/design (hacksaw to cut steep pipes, concrete blocks, silicone caulk, etc), a few bandaged up cuts and scrapes, all the while leaving Lynette the toughest job of all… to entertain two very restless children for the entire weekend while we were building! A mother’s work is never to be under-appreciated, nor is a very handy grandfather’s offer to help build a playfort! It was a team achievement in every aspect. So, here is the final product!

1 comment:

  1. I got to see the play structure when Lynette's dad was working on it. I can't wait to let Katherine play on it next time we are over.

    In searching for a play structure for our house I happened across some pretty cool ones that will probably make yours look like a bargain. Check out http://www.barbarabutler.com/upload/brochure_pdf4a25b73f38e06Fort%20Mediterranean.pdf


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