Tuesday, January 29, 2013

6 Feet Up

 For the last two Saturdays I've been plugging away at the tree fort. I've got very limited carpentry experience/skill, but I'm learning quick from my good friends Google and YouTube. It's incredible what you can find online from so many other talented Dad's and Grandpa's. 

Once I had the posts cemented in I fastened the 2x8x12 beams to form the triangular platform. This part was frustrating! I had read/seen online in multiple places that I should drill the pilot holes slightly smaller and shorter than the lag screws that I would be using to fasten the beams to the tree. Unfortunately, my Pecan tree's core is MUCH stronger than I realized, and by leaving the pilot holes too short I actually broke 3 of the 1/2" lag screws in half! They just sheared right off while I tried to tighten them on with a socket wrench. I finally figured it out, bought a long drill bit to drill the holes deeper, and got the screws firmly in place.

Next I attached three main joists from one side beam to the other. Then I cut shorter joists to connect
to the main joists at a 90* angle. I used metal joist hangers and galvanized nails. Might be a bit over-engineered for a kids tree fort, but I want it to support adults weight and to last for 5-10 years.

Rachel thought I looked like a dork wearing my old Home Depot apron. I must say I got pretty nostalgic when I tied the strings, hooked on my official HD tape measure and exacto knife, and filled my pockets with nails and screws. It used to rain briefly every afternoon in Colorado Springs, and I'd be outside the store under the covered breezeway with all of my lumber carts (we became well acquainted, me and those metal carts), waiting for it to pass so that I could finish loading some contractors flat bed with another 30 bags of cement. Ahhh, good memories.

The platform is nearly finished, just need to cut the final pieces to fit around the tree trunk. I've got the lumber for the ladder all cut and ready to assemble, and it'll attach in the forefront of the picture above, right where the longer boards stop.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our battle with Eczema

This picture pretty much sums it up.  Poor Blake has battled with Eczema since he was about 6 months old.  It hasn't been until very recently that it has flared up and we can't get it to go away.  The worst areas were his diaper, face, and scalp.  Everywhere I went people commented on him and would tell me their battles with Eczema too so I knew I wasn't alone.  

Tyler's co-worker recommended a local skin specialist so we took Blake there this past Tuesday.  He gave us 4 prescriptions and 4 over the counter products along with 2 extra household items to add in his bath.  Unfortunately it took us 3 days to get all the prescriptions filled and the first night we put on the over the counter lotions, Blake's neck swelled up and started seeping a clear liquid and his diaper area got really bad! The rash then slowly started spreading to his back and torso.  There was an oral medicine we were giving him too to stop the itching and it made him tired. The second night I pretty much held him from dinner on.  He was miserable.  I called the nurse and she said it was probably just the Eczema acting up and to keep giving him what the doctor ordered.  I didn't have much faith in the doctor at this point!

After another night and no improvements I called again and talked to another nurse and told her he must be allergic to one of the products so I stopped using one of the creams.  She said that was fine and the last prescription we had yet to get would definitely help the face and diaper area.  We finally got that prescription filled yesterday and have FINALLY seen an improvement today.  Blake has been a champ though and hasn't been itching very well so I think we are finally over the worst of it.  The swelling in his neck has gone down and now he just has dry, peeling skin everywhere!  I hope to see even more improvements in the next few days.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Moving On...

Austin and I finished the retaining wall the week before Christmas. The deadblow is probably his third favorite tool (behind the tape measure and the level).  

 The finished product. We used every last block, but still have a little pile of rocks left over. Now we're planning what to plant behind the wall. Rachel would like to start a simple garden in the spring with spinach, broccoli, cucumbers and maybe swiss chard? (not sure about that last one...)

Aerial shot from the roof...

...which Blake thought was hilarious! While I was up there he kept running around in cirlces laughing and pointing at me.

What a TEAM!

Project #2: The Tree Fort

I dug two 2 foot deep holes, filled the bottom with 4 inches of gravel and compacted it. Then I staked and leveled a 4x6x8 pressure treated post and filled the holes with concrete.

I hope to build the platform this week. The plan is for it to be shaped like a triangle and sit 6 feet off 
of the ground, with 12' long side beams connecting the top of each post to each other and to the tree. Then I'll add railings, a ladder and a slide. Eventually I hope to have a fireman's pole, 1-2 swings and possibly an enclosed space on the back side of the platform big enough to camp out in with the kids.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year!

We spent some time at a friend's house on New Year's Eve.  Our kids were being terrors so we left around 8 which is bedtime anyways.  No wonder they were being terrors.  But we managed to get a quick picture in before we left.  I love my friend's house! She always has it decorated so cute for every Holiday.  

We have some exciting EVENTS coming up in the New Year.  Some I am most excited about is

- My youngest sister Kara is getting married the end of March, which means a trip home!
- My two best friends from Elementary School are coming to visit me in Texas in May!
- I'm already looking forward to a vacation at the beach in April or May!
- Some people in my family are going to Disneyland in November and we hope to go too

- Tyler is building a tree fort in the backward
- I will plant a garden this year...even if it's only 3 vegetables
- I will be putting my new "hand me down" road bike to good use
- I want to add swimming into my workout schedule
- Play tons of basketball in the backyard
- Organize the playroom and decorate it
- Read the Book of Mormon daily
- Write Lori a letter once a month while she's on her mission
- Add more veggies into our daily diet
- Cut out some processed foods in our diet
- Make homemade laundry soap
- Meal Plan for a week in advance
- Think about having another kid ;)

We'll see how I do! Now I need to post this list to my bathroom mirror and see how well I do.  I hope you all are making your own goals for the new year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Austin's Performance

Sorry the video is sideways.  On Christmas Eve we did a little Nativity Production with my family.  Here is Austin playing the part of Samuel the Lamanite from the Book of Mormon.  He is prophesying of the birth of Christ.  He is telling the people on the American Continent there will be a sign where there will be no darkness for a night and then they will know Christ has been born.  It's very entertaining! We just may have a little actor in the making.

Happy Christmas!

 Look what Santa brought to our house!
 Tyler and Preston had lots of fun throwing down their dunks

 Austin wanted to get in on the action too

It was great to have a warmer day a few days after Christmas to enjoy the outdoors!