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.

 

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.”

 

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!

Mom, don’t read this.

Sorry guys, my mom checks my blog and I don’t want to spoil her surprise.  Well, it’s probably not much of a surprise anymore, but anyway…

Everyone besides my mom, there’s still time, and you would feel very happy if you made time for this little project.

When my youngest was in first grade, he announced that he doesn’t believe in Valentine’s Day.  I was puzzled, because I could not understand the rejection of chocolate.  He said he didn’t like it because it was a made-up holiday that forces people to spend money, and that it probably made his grandma (my mom) feel lonely and left out.  My dad died in 2000, and my mom has recovered.  She has a fulfilling life.  She has lots of friends and family, and we love her.  But my son is right.  Single people, people not in a romantic relationship, widows and widowers can easily feel lonely on a day like Valentine’s Day.

We’ve started making stuff for people who might feel left out, because that just stinks!

Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s goodies:

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We made some of it ourselves, and some of it is from Dollar Tree.

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Chocolate candy and red rose soap thingies come in heart-shaped boxes, so of course my kids wanted these.

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We make memory wire bracelets by the zillions around here.  I like them for gifts because they expand to fit just about any size of wrist.  Plus, making them is fun!

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Banana muffin, mmmmmmm!

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A little origami here.  We made some baskets with red heart bookmarks and some with cranes.

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And last, a sweet little card.

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Then we popped everything into a Dollar Tree basket and used a little plastic wrap to hold it all together.  These little baskets fit into a priority mail 7x7x6 box, and weigh just around a pound, so shipping is pretty low.  We’ll be dropping off the local baskets in person today.

My poor son thinks he’s being all un-romantic and rebellious by rejecting contrived romance in favor of authentic love.  Of course, he is doing just the opposite.  It turns all of us to mush!  He’s a little teddy bear, and all the girls know it, to his great chagrin.

Please take a peek around your life and see if you know anyone who might feel left out on Saturday.  It doesn’t have to be a gift basket – just a card or phone call or invitation to coffee or a walk is nice.  We could all use a little love!

Clay Menagerie of Friends and Foes

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My younger son will not be outdone by his sister!

He got into the polymer clay and sculpted, baked, and painted himself up a whole little zoo.

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First up is a piranha.  Notice the bloodthirsty mouth.

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Next is the shark.  We can tell it’s a shark because it has two dorsal fins.  Science, boys and girls!

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Moving on into the movies, we have Jabba the Hut and his horrible pet, Salacious Crumb.  I love that little guy.  He’s so icky!

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Here’s a big black spider.

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A blue whale.  He really nailed the shape of the body, I think.

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And now we get a little more personal.  Here’s Porky

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…and Lucky!

The sculpture of Lucky just about started WWIII around here.  My older son spotted the baked-and-cooling duck and banged on it, breaking off the wings.  Not cool at all!  Negotiations ensued and a cease fire (and apology) were issued, and the last of the Sculpey was used to mend the duck.  A few more minutes in the oven and a cooldown under lock and key got everyone back on track.  I think it looks even nicer with the repairs, and it surely is more sturdy.  If the truth must be told (and it must!) the wings were already starting to crack off simply from their own weight before the hostilities.  Most importantly, the boys are back on the best of terms.

 

 

 

 

My daughter’s unnamed mountains painting and a word on creativity

My daughter got all independent the other day once she remembered my stash of painting canvasses and acrylic paint from a rummage sale this summer.

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When the kids were little, we had regular paintfests in the kitchen.  Sometimes they made galleries of dozens of paintings.  Of course in those days, it was printer paper and washable watercolors.  My older son liked to paint while he was nude so that he always had a surface for his art, even when I was not fast enough switching out papers.  Then he could hop directly in the tub when he was done.  He also liked to paint himself and then roll around on a big sheet of kraft paper.  There was no keeping up with that child!

Now that they are a little older, we don’t rip through quite so many paintings.  I don’t have to lock up the paint and brushes to discourage unauthorized artistic expressions.  They even (mostly) clean up after themselves!

My daughter was quite inspired by the gold acrylic paint. It was probably pretty expensive originally, but at rummage sale prices…go for it!  I like the 3D thing she’s got going on there.  It looks to me like rocks tumbling down the mountain.  And check out the shading of that sky.

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Her first attempt at this painting didn’t go quite the way she wanted.  Her sky got smeared.  She tried to wipe it off, but that didn’t work, so she dunked the whole thing in the sink and started over.

When the kids work on art projects, I try to stay out of it unless they ask me for help.  Well, except for household management and safety issues.  I don’t want them to try to please me – I want them to just get whatever is in their brain out here where the rest of us can see it.  All three of my kids are pretty quirky, which makes for some wonderful art.

When I was young, I liked to write stories.  Sometimes I turned them in for my school projects.  Once, my teacher read my story in front of the class and said that it was very creative.  One of my classmates got all ugly with me and whispered that creative was just a nice word for weird.  Eh, middle school!  I tell my kids that weird is just a nasty, jealous word for creative.

I was weird though.  I am weird now too.  Oftentimes I don’t know I’m being creative until someone tells me.  I do what seems to be the most obvious, natural thing, and then I get these looks.  Oops, my creative is showing.

It’s gotten easier to handle as I’ve gotten older.  I’m just myself – I couldn’t be normal if I tried, so I focus on being kind and loving and responsible, etc.  I work to improve my character, and otherwise accept myself the way I am.  Life would be boring if everyone were normal.  Plus, we wouldn’t have art, and we’d still be wandering around foraging for food.  Nothing would get invented.  We would die young and sick and miserable.  Creative is good.

Here it is, all done except for the signing.  I love it and I’m so proud of her!

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More Freestyle Needle Felting

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I finished up our teamwork Porky project yesterday.  I grabbed a stick from the yard and snapped it to the right length.  I cut the wool into a rectangle shape with tabs at the top, then hand stitched the flaps over the stick.  I had to finish it myself because my daughter was off doing something else.

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She got all independent on me.  She printed out this photo of Lucky for inspiration…

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…and just look at what she made!  She even made little orange feet and black speckles on his head.  His caruncle looks nice and lumpy too.  I’m so proud!

I’m afraid we have found a new hobby.  🙂   🙂   :0)

Unfortunately, it seems to be the sort of hobby where we collect all sorts of little bits of things and save scraps of all kinds because they might become useful someday.  We both already have major packrat tendencies.  Does anyone have any ideas for how to organize/control ourselves?  I really am serious here!

Ridiculous Cabbage Patch Kids Snow Globes

I stopped by a rummage sale the other day and picked up the most awful pair of earrings I have ever seen.  Here they are: CPK earrings!

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They were completely dirty, maybe a little bit chewed-on, and one of them was broken.  But they only cost me a quarter.  I bought them just for the experience of it!

My daughter and I decided some crafts were in order.

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I cut the top off the earring that wasn’t already broken, and that left a little white spot on top of her head.

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A little red nail polish took care of that.

You’ll have to (please) excuse our blurry photos.  Were were laughing so hard, we couldn’t hold the camera steady.

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All better!  Well, not exactly all better, more like a little better.  After the polish dried, we scrubbed the dirt off.

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We had some cheap little containers we bought at the dollar store.

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We put some contact cement on the lids and on the feet of the dolls.  Then we waited a few minutes so they would get tacky.  Tacky like sticky, I mean.  The CPKs were already tacky like cheesy!

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Then we stuck the dolls onto the lids and let them dry for a few hours.

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We put some nail polish tiny glitter into the cups.  It didn’t look tacky enough, so we also dumped in some regular big glitter.

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Then we filled the cups with water.

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We put contact cement around the edge of the cups…

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…and around the lids too.  We waited a few minutes until they got tacky.  Same joke, but I’m too lazy to type it again.

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Then we stuck the lids on and waited for the glue to dry.

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Wow!  How glamorous!  How exciting!  How…interesting.

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But look what happened a couple of days later.  Looks like the glue holding the dolls to the lids dissolved in the water.  Now we have Cabbage Patch Glitter Snow Globes with Unconscious Girls, how excellent!

My daughter’s girl scout service unit is decorating a tree at the mall tomorrow, and she is supposed to bring a couple of homemade ornaments.  Do you think these look homemade enough??

My prankster hat is done.

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You might remember how my daughter tricked me into making a hat…

I think I like how it turned out.  I made a huge floppy sort of pom pom thing for the top.

It’s a little big for my daughter’s head.  It’s a little big for my head too.  Maybe I’ll have to become one of those gaugers after all.  Of course, it might be easier (and more fun) to make new friends with giant heads.

And even though my daughter “hates knitting,” somehow she has begun a new hat.

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You may have noticed that she is using the smaller loom this time.

Apparently this doesn’t count as knitting because she is using a little eyelash yarn.  She plans to make a couple of rounds with eyelash yarn and then switch to the more ordinary yarn.  As you can see, she really “hates knitting.”

Thanks for stopping by!  Maria

Giant Origami Pirate Puppet and Crane Decoration

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My youngest is really into the Origami Yoda books.  He’s been folding and creating like mad!  His best idea so far?  A giant origami pirate puppet!

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He used a piece of colored poster board to make his puppet.  It’s a little bigger than the finger puppets in the books, but he believes in living large.

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Not to be outdone, his (shy) sister contributed a giant origami crane.  She is considering adding scary teeth and making a pterodactyl decoration.  If you’re going to be big, you might as well be big and SCARY, that’s what I say.