Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 21 (4/19)

It rained like crazy all day Monday, but luckily it tapered off by the evening so I was able to get another evening’s work in. It was VERY muddy though, and I don’t know why, but the mud was particularly smelly. So everyone enjoyed me I’m sure!

First order of business was securing the ladder to the playset.

Number of times I was asked if the ladder was ready, while I was trying to line it up right? Eleventy.

A little bit tricky because the ground wasn’t exactly level, but I got it working, and we set out for some “inaugural” ladder climbs.

After the ladder comes the rock wall. Naturally you have to put in all the rocks to the boards, because shipping the rocks already on there would be way too convenient.

Not really a problem, except that the rocks attach with the barrel nuts, and I don’t know if it’s something about barrel nuts in general, these particular barrel nuts that they use in this playset, or just me not knowing what I’m doing, but I’ve found that it’s really tough to get them to be secure with just the one flat washer they recommend – most of the ones I put in needed to have 2 washers.

Plus you have to secure the other side with a screwdriver while you’re using the drill to tighten the phillips bolt on the other side, and it’s obviously very tricky to hold a screwdriver on one side while getting enough torque to tighten something else. Carolyn came out to help me though and we were able to get all of them secured.

Number of times a kid asked Carolyn to make a bologna and cheese sandwich while we were doing this? Eleventy more!

Attaching the rock wall was tricky because it’s kind of cramped underneath the playset, especially in the corner, so it took 3 holes drilled to get it to line up right (mistake!) but eventually the rock wall was attached and ready for some inaugural climbs!

Next was the monkey bars (assembled back on the driveway) – I did take some pictures of that but it was dark and something must have gone wrong with the flash as the pictures were big black blobs. I did make another mistake on Step 77 – it requires 1 1/2″ lag screws and 2″ lag screws on the “H2 Monkey Bar Ground Board” in different places, and I put the 2″ screws where the 1 1/2″ screws were supposed to go (and thus they poked out the other side). I also had a minor mistake on Step 80 – attaching the wrong size hex bolts to the triangle brace of the monkey bars. I secured the brace to the monkey bar support structure before I realized that I also had to secure it to the monkey bars themselves. Nothing big, but it did take me a few minutes to undo that, so I’ll count it.

Day 21 time: 3.0 hours
Total time: 39.0 hours
Mistakes made: 3 today (17 total)
Steps completed: 74-80 (out of 103)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 20 (4/18)

Sunday again was a (beautiful) day of rest, so I was back on the playset work come Monday evening. Hard to believe I’ve been at this for nearly 3 weeks now! I’m of two minds as to the length of time. On the one hand, I could have had this playset up a lot sooner had I taken some full days off of work (or of course paid someone else to install it). On the other hand, I’ve still been having a lot of fun, and while spending nearly all of my evening and weekend free time on this project HAS prevented me from doing some other things, I’ve had fun working with my kids (who are almost every morning asking if we’re going to be able to work on the playset today!)

I thought that I had finished step 67 on Saturday, but it turned out there was still one part of it left undone, so I quickly finished that off. I also realized that I had made a mistake putting the metal gable parts (big green triangle on the picture below) on the insides instead of the outsides (mistake!)

The tasks for today were installing the porch area in front of the clubhouse. But before we got to that, Step 69 involved walling off one of the sides of the 2nd story. The problem with that is that particular area was the easiest way to actually get UP TO the 2nd story (since of course we don’t actually get a ladder till Step 74). So I got those boards and hoisted myself up for hopefully the LAST time.

Steps 70 and 71 involved creating the porch rafters and roof, and that step was done down on the ground. Since previous steps have let me know what direction the rafters are supposed to go, this didn’t take too long. One problem with Step 70 is that it claims you are supposed to put the 2 “V-shaped” rafter pieces together and then it gives vague instructions of how you’re supposed to run 2″ wood screws through them to connect them. It is not really clear how or where that’s supposed to happen but after staring at it for awhile, I did what I thought was best. It worked out okay but it was a bit tricky when I was trying to put the metal triangular support on the rafters, since one of the screws for the metal base hit this other wood screw that I had put in previously. But it all worked out.

The tricky part was actually ATTACHING the porch roof to the main clubhouse area. And by tricky part, I mean tricky part attaching it by MYSELF. Carolyn had come home while I was putting this on (snapping this nice picture)

She was able to help me get the bolts lined up into the right bolt holes, but it was a bit tricky getting the bolts to catch into the nuts. These “Spike T-nuts” that they give you are nice, but they are sometimes tricky to line up with the bolts. If you don’t have the bolt lined up EXACTLY right, your bolt spins but doesn’t catch. And with all the weight of the porch roof, the bolt was sagging some and not really lining up. It took about 15-20 minutes of me trying to simultaneously support the roof, push it up so the bolt was going in straight, make sure the nut stayed in place, as well as actually ratchet in the bolt with the socket wrench. Good times!

Then I put the gable on the porch roof (correctly on the outside this time!), and started on the ladder. I really wanted to get the ladder up and secured before I quit for the day, but alas, darkness foiled me.

As you can see, I got the ladder built, but it was pitch black by now (after 9 pm) and I didn’t want to risk screwing up the attachment since I couldn’t see in the dark.

Day 20 time: 3.0 hours
Total time: 36.0 hours
Mistakes made: 1 today (14 total)
Steps completed: 67-73 (out of 103)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 15 (4/13)

After getting in a few hours on Saturday after the rain, I did not work on Sunday as usual and then was rained out on Monday. Tuesday we had van troubles and I was not in the mood to continue playset work, so it was Wednesday before I was able to get back into things.

My co-worker Geoff and I had agreed to work again on Monday, but as mentioned earlier, rain. We seem to have a knack for scheduling work days during monsoons. But Wednesday looked like a good day and we were able to get started a bit after work.

First order of business was fixing the bolt hole that was not lining up. We drilled an extra hole and secured the post with bolts.

The next few steps were putting in some of the wall boards to enclose the playset. Here’s Geoff attempting to secure the first vertical board.

That was when we realized Mistake #1. The holes in the vertical board did not line up with the horizontal board. So we moved the horizontal board down to line up with a different board and secured it.

Then we realized that vertical board did not go there (Mistake #2), so we unscrewed it and moved it to where it belongs. Then when we got here, we realized that our horizontal board was right in the first place (Mistake #3), so we had to fix that.

Here you can see the extra holes

And finally, a few shots of where we ended up for the day.

We ended up stopping for the day because the next step we needed to do required 1″ wood screws, which we could not find. It was getting dark though so I decided to stop and look for it the next day when it was light out.

Day 11 time: 5 hours (2.5 hours * 2 people)
Total time: 27.5 hours
Mistakes made: 3 today (10 total)
Steps completed: 42-53 (out of 103)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 9 (4/7)

They say it’s my birthday!! Doo doo doo doo doo duh doo!

But what could be more fun to do on your birthday than continue building a giant playset?!?!? I’m not sure.

Now that the playset is out in its “final resting place”, it is a little more challenging to get set up and put things away each day. Especially since my drill is not cordless :-(

First order of business was to continue working on the picnic. I knew that I would have a few hours and the weather forecast was pretty good, so I set the ambitious goal to get from Step 19 all the way up to 30.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck early on as I realized that something was not right.

I was trying to lay the boards for the top of the picnic table, which are supposed to lay crosswise across the support pieces near where my son is sitting. You can see the first three placed there, but if you look closely, the spot where the last two are supposed to go is blocked by a board sticking up.

Turns out that (once again), Leisure Time did not provide adequate instructions as to orientation of the boards, and I had that board flipped the wrong way. In fact, I was so annoyed with the instructions, I thought it was worth its own pic

You may need to click to see the detail, but there is the board (K14) in question. If you look closely, you can see that it does indicate that the hole on the top is closer to the top of the board than the hole on the bottom is to the bottom of the board. But again, would it have killed them to just call that out!!!

Luckily it wasn’t a big deal and I was able to just unbolt it, turn it around, and put it back in.

With the picnic table fully assembled, it was time for the inaugural snack!

After snack time, it was time to put the troops to work again.

They’re carrying the “fence” boards that go around two sides of the picnic table area. I got the one side on without a problem, but then see if you can spot the problem in this pic?

It’s kind of like a mobius strip or an MC Escher puzzle! :-) If you haven’t noticed, the top board is behind the post, and the bottom board is in front of the post. Which makes it kind of hard to level-ly attach the up and down posts. Again I was lucky that it wasn’t hard to figure out which board was wrong (the bottom one) nor was it difficult to take it out and put it where it belonged.

You have to space the boards out with a certain amount between each one, and all of my experience putting the balusters on our deck came in very handy here. I settled in to a rhythm pretty easily – measure it out, attach the tops, level the board, and attach it on the bottom. Every two or three, I measured my remaining space and adjusted accordingly. The reason for that is that if you’re even 1/4 inch off on each board, you don’t want to leave a huge (or tiny) gap between the last board and the edge. So by re-measuring every few boards, you can check and adjust your space if you need to. Nobody’s going to notice that one set of boards is 3″ apart instead of 3 1/8″, but they’ll definitely notice if all the boards are 3 1/8″ and the last set are only 2″ apart.

It was all looking good but then it started to rain, and this was a good stopping place, since the next step starts with the 2nd story of the clubhouse, so I called it a day.

Day 9 time: 2.5 hours
Total time: 18.5 hours
Mistakes made: 2 today (4 total)
Steps completed: 19-24 (out of 103)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 6 (4/4)

Day 5 was Sunday aka a Day of Rest. So no work done until Monday (4/4/11). I had originally coordinated with my coworker Geoff to come over on Saturday. He is also building a playset this summer, so the thought was that we would swap labor – he’d help me on mine, and I’d help him with his. So originally he was going to come over on Saturday, but after I reviewed the progress from last week, I decided Saturday wasn’t a good day – I wanted to make sure that I knew a bit more of what I was doing before I brought in another person.

So upon checking schedules, Monday was the only day that worked for us, so we set that up. It seemed like it was going to work out perfectly since I was on Step 13, which was the step where we’d need to move it from its interim spot in the driveway back into the backyard, something that was clearly going to require (at least) two people. The tragedy in all this was the fact that when Monday dawned, it was scheduled for thunderstorms and heavy winds all day, with a 100% chance of precipitation :-( . And sure enough, skies were dark all day, with lots of rain and wind.

But by the time we got off work and over to the house, the rain had definitely calmed down. It was still drizzling a bit, but certainly nothing too terrible. First order of business was to carry it back into the back yard. There was some measuring and some visualization and Carolyn came out too to give her thoughts on where it should go. Once we settled on a spot, then we set to level the ground.

It took quite a bit of time actually – digging it out and checking level from every possible angle. Once we got it pretty close, we figured out that rather than picking the whole playset all the way up and moving it in order to dig around it – we could just lift up part of it and dig the dirt out. I’m sure Geoff must have volunteered at one point to “shoulder” the load…

Finally…. success!

Then came the real fun of what we would come to refer to as the “infamous” Step 13. I know I mentioned in an earlier post that it seemed like the technical writers were charged by the word – so many places it just seemed like an extra sentence or paragraph would have been SO useful. But Step 13 was so over the top that I felt the need to show you, in its entirety, the instructions.

First sentence – “time to position playset in permanent location and secure to ground”. Check – we did that and had it all nice and level. Now we get those 4 “Y41″ stakes and measure out 6″ from either side in the corners. Okay we did that, but then it starts talking about securing them to the baseboards with 1″ bolts – how can you possibly do that if they’re 6″ from the board? Geoff and I noodled on that one for a long time. Was there some other board involved? A longer bolt?

Plus who would want a stake sticking 3″ out of the ground inside the playset? We thought maybe the interior ones were supposed to be covered up by the “O5″ sandbox seat boards (shown in the bottom instruction picture), but what about the ones that were 6″ outside the playset on the other side? Talk about tripping hazard!

Finally we figured (and I THINK correctly) that the stakes were supposed to end up flush against the baseboards and the 6″ was only so you’d have some room / leverage to twist them down into the ground. So we marked the spots where the stakes were supposed to go

Then moved the playset a foot or so to the side, twisted the stakes into the ground (yay moist ground due to rain all day!), and moved the playset back into place.

But the next problem came on the other side. These bolts / nuts required access on both sides (one to drill in the bolt, and one to secure the nut on the other side so it didn’t just spin). But the other side was blocked by the picnic table floor boards (part of Step 11). So we had to remove those in order to secure the stakes on that side.

They were annoying too because they were VERY tight and hard to get out and then back on.

This whole step really made very little sense. There’s no mention of moving things 6″ before Step 13. Am I alone in wanting the playset to be in a specific spot in the yard, rather than just “over there somewhere”? Why would anyone start building the playset 6″ off of where they really wanted it to be? And would it have killed them to at least mention this whole 6″ move somewhere in the beginning of the instructions? And that’s not even mentioning the whole picnic table floor board fiasco.

In any case, I’m pretty sure we eventually got it right, and we managed to knock out Step 14 too before it got dark.

Day 6 time: 4.5 hours (2 1/4 hours * 2 people)
Total time: 15 hours
Mistakes made: 2
Steps completed: 13-14 (out of 103)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 3 (4/1)

Day 3 was another cold day. When I got home, I immediately set out to continue progress!

I had stored the first part of the playset underneath the carport to protect it from the elements, but obviously that was not going to be possible very much longer.

You can see the first section in the background behind me as i worked on Step 2, which is building a similar section to the first one.

Carolyn actually had a party to go to, so I had all the kids with me. Luckily the youngest went to bed early, so I just had the rest of them out here with me. She took the camera though, which is why there aren’t any more pictures of the evening’s work.

Steps 3-6 involve putting the sections from the first two steps together into the base of the clubhouse. Work went pretty well and I was able to complete up through Step 6

Day 3 time: 2 hours
Total time: 5.5 hours
Mistakes made: 0
Steps completed: 2-6 (of 103)

Miller family humor

So today my oldest son and I worked on some “fortunes”. These are like fortune cookies I guess, where you open them up and have a little saying inside.

These are all his original jokes

  • Why did Scott pour water in his pants? To look like he peed his pants
  • Why did the kid break the video game? Because he wanted to put it on a yard sale
  • Knock knock. Who’s there? Basketball. Basketball who? Dog – what are you doing with my basketball – just pull out your underwear!!
  • Knock knock. Who’s there? Gus. Gus who? Gus – what are you doing? You just knocked over my banana peel trash can.
  • Why did Harry Potter wave his wand? To make a pair of underwear
  • Why did the dog knock over the paper? Because he wanted to make a letter out of his teeth!
  • Knock knock. Who’s there? Mom and dad. Mom and dad who? Don’t call them that – call them Daddymom.
  • Why did the skeleton git (sic) a screwdriver? To screw skulls on his bones.
  • Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9.

Thought you might enjoy a fun excerpt of Miller family humor.

In the sons following after their fathers department.

Said to me by my 7 year old son

“Next time when you make me math problems, make them EVEN HARDER!!!”
:-)

2009 Staycation, Part 4

Part 4 of the Great 2009 Staycation (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Sorry for the delay in getting this up, but I have finally gotten around to it.

So, Tuesday, we originally were going to head downtown, but for various reasons, it didn’t work out great. So instead we just took kind of a relax day. During the afternoon, while kids were napping, I decided to do a test route on my Every Library in Hamilton County bike trip. The plan was to hit 7 libraries (Madisonville, Oakley, Hyde Park, Norwood, Pleasant Ridge, Deer Park and Madeira), which would be about a 16 mile trip. I was trying to just see what the route was like as well as getting a gauge for how long it took to check out a book once I got to each library.

It was going well till, tragically, I got a flat tire on my bike in Norwood. You can read all about it over at Every Whatever, once I get around to writing that report.

So I had Carolyn come pick me up and that was fun. Wednesday we decided to do our downtown trip, since that was the last day that we had before I had to go back to work on Thursday.

We drove downtown after lunch and the first stop was Fountain Square.

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Here’s the kids in front of the Tyler Davidson Fountain. I believe that one of them is trying to make the birdman goggles. Honestly I think they enjoyed running around trying to catch pigeons the most.

Then we went up to the top of Carew Tower, which is the tallest building in Cincinnati (at least for another 2 years). You can see it in the background of the Fountain Square picture.

It was cool, yet freaky. You have to take the main elevators to the 45th floor, then get out and take another elevator to the 48th floor, then walk the stairs up to the 49th floor. It’s $2 for adults and $1 for kids 6-11. The thing that is freaky about it is that there is a wall maybe 3 feet high, but then nothing else. Not for the acrophobic, to be sure. I didn’t mind it much myself, but it was the kids. Since they outnumber us and were just running around like the lunatics that they are, I was nervous about them falling. I mean the wall is high enough that they couldn’t fall over just by running, but then they started climbing on the binocular pedestal and it was just hard to relax and check out the views, ya know?

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That’s Fountain Square from above.

We started walking downtown towards Sawyer Point, then quickly realized that was much farther than we really wanted to walk, especially now that Cincinnati has finally remembered what August is generally like (hot and humid).

So we drove down and found some $2 parking at Bicentennial Commons. We played at the park that is nestled under the I-471 Big Mac Bridge. It was a lot of fun – it’s a pretty big park and nice and shady since it’s under the bridge.

After that we continued walking around Bicentennial Commons. We stopped and snapped a picture at the monument that marks the various flood stages of the Ohio River in different years.

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Unfortunately Dan the crappy photog missed the very top mark, which is the 1937 flood, which was a whopping 28!! feet above the 1884 line. If you look closely at the picture, you can see a very bit of black at the top left of the red pole, which is the 1937 line.

Then we came to good ol’ Cincinnatus, for whom the city of Cincinnati is (sort of) named for. See, technically, it’s named for the Society of the Cincinnati, but that’s usually more than I feel like bothering to explain.

When I was in college, we used to come down here and poke our head up Cincinnatus’ skirt. I don’t know why we thought that was funny, but naturally I had to take the opportunity to do it while I was here again!!

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In case you are wondering, he is not anatomically correct.

I wanted to walk across the Purple People bridge, but Carolyn didn’t, so I just took one of them on my walk.

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You can’t really see us, but we’re up there.

After we walked across the river to Newport and back, we found the rest of the fam at the Otto Armleder Aquatic center, which is basically just all these fountains that you can play in.

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Swimsuits? We don’t need no steenkin swimsuits.

It was about 4 pm by now, so we decided to head home, get some dinner, change the kids out of their sopping wet clothes, before heading out to our final series of destinations.

We went to Dave and Busters, as I had a $10 gift certificate. Unfortunately, the fine print states that it is not good on “Half Price Wednesdays” so we couldn’t use it.

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Here we are growling at how annoying they are. And oh yes, they will be getting a Complaint from Me. Then we stopped by Tri-County mall, before ending the day with some Graeters (for us) and McDonalds ice cream cones (for the kids – no wasting the good stuff on them!)

Final budget tally!

Remember, the budget is $250.

Earlier days: $170

Wednesday:

  • $1 in parking (Under the Westin Hotel – $1 for the first 2 hours
  • $6 for Carew Tower observation deck
  • $2 in parking at Bicentennial Commons
  • $2 at Graeters (I had $6 left on a gift card I won at work)
  • $4 at McDonalds
  • And the gas tank on the van is half full, so I’ll give it another $20 there.

Final Total: $205

I hope you enjoyed reading about our staycation / vacation – we sure had fun doing it!

An interesting perspective on parenting

So, I had an interesting thought on a different perspective on parenting while sitting in Priesthood class last week at church.

Within the past few weeks, Carolyn and I were talking about our kids (of course). And Carolyn was mentioning how you can’t treat kids as “little adults”. Meaning, that you think that you can just reason with them like you would reason with any regular person. Things like “If you continue teasing your sister, you will go to your room and not get a snack” or “If you won’t wear your shoes outside, then it will hurt when you walk across the gravel driveway” or “If you run into me with that shopping cart one more time, then I will take it away from you”. But they just don’t get it, and often do things that are not in their (rational) best interests. And as Carolyn pointed out, it’s because they are in fact NOT little adults, and their minds just aren’t mature enough to grasp that.

So while sitting in class on Sunday, we were tangentially talking about something like this, and I got the insight that this is probably EXACTLY how our Heavenly Father thinks about us, as HIS children.

He’s probably sitting up there thinking “Man these kids are SO stupid. I have told them over and over what they need to do to be happy, but they still do all this stupid stuff! Grr……….: :-)