Inexpensive Back Yard Slide

I needed a slide in the back yard for my son. He is seventeen, and he really needs a slide in his yard. I could take him to a playground (and I do) but sometimes there are gobs of other kids there, and their parents seem to feel a little funny about what appears to be a large grown man taking turns on the equipment with their toddlers. I get that. It makes sense for my son to have his own slide in his own yard.

IMG_20160810_185251988_HDR (1)But wow, guess what? I’m going to sound like the big cheese at an IEP meeting, but there are “financial constraints.”

There are other constraints too. Sometimes you can find someone willing to sell you the playground their kids have outgrown for a song, but the catch is that you need to disassemble it, haul it to your place, and then reassemble it yourself. I’ve assembled playgrounds, and I’ve disassembled playgrounds. In my experience, it takes about 2-3 times as long to disassemble a playground as to assemble it. That’s because there are no instructions, the metal parts have gotten rusty, the wooden parts have rotted and splintered, and the playground has sunk into the ground. You may find this to be worth your time, but it depends on your situation.

Since I wasn’t doing the whole swingset thing, I found it easier to just build a little slide.

I looked for a used plastic slide in my area, but I didn’t have any luck so I ordered one online.

I built the support for the slide out of thrifted lumber and hardware from the Habitat for Humanity store.

At my local store, people donate all kinds of building materials, some of them new and some of them used. They have a big pile of lumber out in the back and I picked through it three weeks in a row to gather the boards I needed. I used 4x4s, 2x4s, 4x6s, and 1x whatevers. The boards I bought were all sorts of lengths, and parts of them were damaged, so I did a lot of trimming. I had some screws and other hardware on hand, and the rest I bought at the Habitat store.

IMG_20160806_171322289 (1)Since my son is a teenager who knows that he shouldn’t jump off the top of the slide, I did not bother putting a rail or fence at the top. If I were building this for a younger child, I would do it differently.

I put drawer handles on the deck at the top so that my son could easily pull himself up.

I also put some solar lights at the top right near the slide part because my son is really into reflectors. I mean he is really, really, really into reflectors. He likes to play in the dark just so that he can see the lights.

Since I used thrifted lumber, this slide may not last as long as a slide built from brand new lumber. I’ll have to keep an eye on it to make sure it’s safe to use. I guess I would do that anyway though.

IMG_20160806_171238702I built a ladder right into the tower for the slide. My son doesn’t like it so much, so when I get a little free time, I’ll make him a ladder too. He’s right, it is easier to climb up when you can do it at an angle. But he’s enjoying his slide just fine in the mean time.

IMG_20160810_185251988_HDR (2).jpgI can tell he likes it by the ruts in the landing area.

 

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DIY to encourage good manners. Well, improved manners anyway.

Why yes, as a matter of fact, I do get tired of talking about going to the bathroom all the time. But I have children. One of my children in particular has issues. Issues with anxiety, issues with language and communication, issues with knowing when it is not appropriate to talk about one’s issues with anxiety regarding digestion…

So I thought I was clever when I introduced the idea of referring to poops as victories, because that just sounds better. I now understand that we will probably never get through a day without talking about pooping. A more achievable (but probably still unlikely) goal would be to talk about pooping in less graphic detail. Or at least to reduce (but not eliminate, sorry for the pun) our frank and graphic discussions of pooping while some people are trying to choke down their dinner without gagging.

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I printed up this nice little encouragement and sealed it with clear Contact paper. I could have used the glass that came with the frame instead, but glass in picture frames is a no-no at our house.

Since I’m an optimist, I used a dry erase marker to fill in the zeroes. A realist would probably have used a Sharpie, but I try to keep it positive around here.

The cardboard at the back of the frame was mangled, so I fixed it with cardboard, a soda can tab, and a blob of hot glue.

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I am expecting wonderful things!

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At our house, “victory” is the code word for “poop.”

 

I don’t know why, but I crocheted a little hat for my bird.

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I had about half a skein of pink variegated embroidery floss left, and I figured if I used it all up, I wouldn’t have to bother putting it away where it belonged.  Plus, Porky needed a hat.  Sorry about the flash.

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An exciting experiment is in the works!

What a find!  I can hardly believe it.
My son likes to take lots and lots of baths.  He loves to play with colors too, and he likes to use different colors of soaps and shampoos when he takes a bath.  We limit him to two color choices per bath.
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Sorry this is so blurry. I guess I just got excited!
One of his favorite outings is the grocery store.  Our pharmacy is located in the grocery store and it works like this:  My son goes to the pharmacy window and asks for his medicine.  Even though everyone there knows him, they ask for his name and birthdate, and he answers their questions and signs the forms, and then he sometimes chats and makes small talk.  (!!!)
When he does a great job, he gets the built-in reward of picking out his own salad and drink, and browsing through the soap.  They have a huge selection of shampoos and soaps and body washes in every imaginable color and for every special condition.  This cracks me up because our usual condition is “dirty” and so we are looking for soap to make us “clean,” and all of them do that.  Of course, there are different price points.  We stick to the cheap ones.
I don’t know why I never noticed this before, but with all these options, there is one kind of shampoo that (presumably) would be for almost everyone.
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“Normal” shampoo.
Normal?  Sure, why not?  It’s 79 cents, and it’s orange.  I’ve never been normal before.  I’ll try it out and let you know how it goes.

My Daughter’s Crochet Bracelets – First Time Project!

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My daughter is crocheting up a storm.  She is using an aluminum bangle for a base, and adding a row of single crochet in a sparkly purple yarn courtesy of her mother’s store.  She chose a purple bracelet too, in case some of the bracelet shows through when she’s done.

This is the first time she has crocheted anything besides long, long chains, so I am excited for her.

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Oops, it’s not quite her first non-chain project.  A few minutes ago, she already finished a bracelet using polyester satin cord.  The cord was nice for her to use because she didn’t have to deal with shredding her yarn.  I remember learning to crochet many, many, many years ago.  I shredded a lot of yarn, and I remember lots of sweaty, dirty, knotty messes.  Wherever my daughter gets her ways, she seems to have missed the messy yarn gene!

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Almost done…

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She rocked it!

Big Basket for the Hubster

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I found a couple of yards of royal blue knit fabric at a thrift store.  Hey, that’s one of Glen’s school colors!

I’ve seen baskets like these all over the place on Pinterest.  I tried to follow one of the patterns, but it didn’t work for me.  I think my fabric yarn ended up being thicker than the stuff the pattern designers used, because when I tried to crochet the bottom, it turned out all ruffly.  So I ripped that out and went freestyle.

I used double crochet instead of single crochet, and I increased my stitches more slowly too when I was making the bottom of the basket.  I had a few false starts, but I eventually got the hang of it.

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I kept going until I ran out of the blue fabric yarn, and then I destashed some white polyester knit and made that into yarn too.  I just barely had enough to make the basket.

The basket is pretty good sized – about a foot in diameter.

He’s not sure what he’s going to do with it.  The kids had several suggestions.  My favorite was that he could put it on his desk like a tip jar.  He could seed the basket with a little of his own money to get people started.  Maybe even a $5 bill to offer a subtle suggestion.  Do professors get tips??  Where do my kids get these ideas??

Speaking of my one-and-only, here’s what he’s been up to lately.  And here.  Here too.  It’s giving him gray hair!

 

Just a list… Music Which Requires the Use of Elbows

Whenever we go on a family outing, there are a few things we need to do that are a little bit other-than-normal.  One of our favorite items is listening for background music.  Whenever one of these songs comes on, we run over to our eldest and remind him, “Watch the elbows!”  It happens more often than you might think, and it’s always good for a laugh.

Stereo Hearts

Cotton Eye Joe

How Bad Can I Be?

The Voo Voo Vah Song

The Oooh, and I Play with the Plunger Song

Who Let the Dogs Out

The Sign

And one more that’s never on the radio, but sometimes it’s coming out of my youngest’s mouth.

There are many more songs on this list.  I just can’t think of them right this minute.

How about you?  Any songs which require the use of the elbows?

Always, always cranking out the gift bags!

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These are just right for wrapping up a pattern.

I ran out of the fancy ribbon, so I made a few like this:

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If you want to make your own, here’s a tutorial.

And on a larger scale:

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My little girl scout is scheduled to go camping this weekend.  The girls have enormous quantities of lightweight items (paper towels, tp, cereal, etc.) to haul back to the cabins.

I’ve made a lot of these over the years.  When my eldest was young, we needed to use cloth diapers.  We live in a rural area with no diaper service, so I made nylon diaper pail liners like this.  Just a giant bag.  Then when I washed the diapers, I threw the bag in the wash too.  We still use the bags for hauling stuff, but we don’t tell anyone about their sordid past.  Hey, they’ve been washed in hot water about a million times, people!

For my daughter’s camping bag, I put some handles on the top.  I re-purposed them from a broken lunch bag.  Close-up:

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DIY Replacement Hammock from a Bed Sheet

The kids got my husband a hammock last year for Father’s Day.  They bought it a rummage sale, and the guy who sold it to us said it had been sitting around in the garage for years.

Unfortunately, the years took their toll on the hammock, and the fabric ripped.  We decided to re-use the tree straps and hardware and make our own hammock out of an old sheet.

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You can see I need to learn to tie a decent knot!  In my defense, I did this in the rain when it was very cold outside.  I would not let anyone use this if it were any more than six inches off the ground!

You can see the nylon tree strap to the far right with a round ring.  The strap is nylon and the ring is steel.  Then we have a steel S hook attaching the poorly tied hammock.  The metal part protecting the rope is called a rope thimble.  We salvaged it from our old, torn hammock.  It reminds me of a french wire for jewelry making.  Same concept, much heavier!

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Here’s the sewing part.  I’ve been sewing for 40 years, and so I’m afraid I have no excuse for how this turned out!  I used bonded nylon thread and I sewed the casing twice on each end of the sheet.  It was a very fancy satin sheet a few years ago.  But somehow, the hem was kind of crooked.  I followed along the existing hem when I made the casing, and then I couldn’t figure out why it was so crooked.  Duh, Maria!  I’m afraid it’s not the best looking hammock in town.

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Ahhhhh!  Here’s the important part!  My son likes to lie face down on the hammock.  For some reason, the pressure around his belly calms him and helps him feel better when he starts to feel upset.  Obviously, we need to supervise closely to make sure he can breathe OK.  Fortunately for us, he never holds a position for long.  He’s one of those kids that is always moving, moving, moving.

Now that the kiddos are back in school, I can take a few minutes and read up on how to tie a hammock properly, and then we’ll be set.  Hmm, I wonder if anyone will give their father a turn in his hammock!

Too Many Snow Days!

My kids are working on day number four of weather-related school closings.  This is right after having Monday off for President’s Day.  Kind of an unplanned nine-day weekend.

Here are a few items recently added to my to-do list:

  • Replace one toilet.  It is not fixable.
  • Stay grateful that we have more than one bathroom.
  • Clean one bag of (formerly) dried barley out of the dryer, which also contains one load of (formerly) wet laundry.
  • Lock children out of my own computer.
  • Run away from home.

No, I’m (mostly) kidding about that last item.

The kids have been a little bit productive this week, writing cleaned up lyrics to Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda.  Here you go:

My Lucky ducky ain’t

My Lucky ducky ain’t

My Lucky ducky ain’t in the mood

Unless you got food, dude.

Oh my gosh,

Look at that duck!

Oh my gosh,

Look at that duck!

Oh my gosh,

Look at that duck!

Oh my gosh,

Look at that duck!

This dude named Lucky

is a very good ducky.

He’s a million times nicer

than the doll Chucky.

He’s really really funny,

and super silly.

He is a good friend,

but his name is not Billy.

And he’s sweet, sweet, sweet.

He’s a bird but he don’t tweet, tweet, tweet.

He’ll sit on my lap like it’s his seat, seat, seat.

Just know to never touch his feet, feet, feet.

Great so far, huh?  Then I went to look up the rest of the lyrics and about fell over.  I sure am glad she sings so fast.  Otherwise I might have heard it on the car radio and had a crash!  Now I understand why the kids like it so much.  It breaks rules in almost every section of the school list-of-violations-and-punishments book.  Obviously, they haven’t been singing the original song around the house beyond the first little bit.  Is there a cleaned-up version?  Yikes!

Time to take a break and give the duck a bath.  Don’t worry, he’s been living in the living room all week.  It’s too cold out there!

Sorry so blurry!
Sorry so blurry!