Monday, June 4, 2012

Margarita Pool - or just an in-ground trampoline!

My Saint Bernard has had some droopy eye issues the past six months. He’s had three surgeries and several tackings (you might not even want to know what that means!) and eyelashes removed along with the follicles, eye drops, steroids, and many, many trips to our fabulous eye doctor at The Animal Eye Center in Loveland, Colorado. Those early trips were stressful at first because there was a lot of road work at the Windsor exit, and I would sit through the lights to cross over the interstate for about fifteen minutes each way. Since this is already a forty minute drive for me, adding another fifteen with two or three kids in the van and an enormous Saint Bernard, just simply wasn’t fun at all! So I found a different way that consisted of driving through a gorgeous neighborhood. This was a neighborhood filled with large homes, sprawling yards, bodies of water, trails throughout, mailboxes each with an ornate eagle, and sunken trampolines. I had seen a few pictures of in-ground trampolines online, but driving through this neighborhood, I just knew if I couldn’t live there, I’d at least get our family an in-ground trampoline.

 So at the end of March, I started talking about it with my husband who didn’t like the idea at all. I am wife and Mommy, and long story short, I win. And I get to do most of the labor! I started off with finding the area in the yard I could put a 14 foot round hold into the ground without terribly disturbing the integrity of our yard. Once I found that perfect spot, I had to account for the future growth of the pear trees the hole would be near. And then the easy part….draw a 14 foot in diameter circle. So I measured out 17 feet from the trees and pounded in a wooden stake. Simple, right, tie a string to the stake that is 7 feet long and walk in a circle painting an orange circle on the grass…right? After three tries, my 5 year old daughter wrapping the string around her body and three circles painted on the grass, I called a man. I know. I’ll stop there so you can laugh. I felt like such a girl. He came over, changed my string to rope, tied the paint can to the rope, loosely tied the rope to the stake so it wouldn’t wrap around the stake, politely asked my daughter to get out of the circle so it wouldn’t wrap around her either, and walked in a perfect 14 foot circle.
  Next step was removing the grass. Sure, it looks easy, but with school schedules, kids’ schedules, meals, baths, and hugs, it took me about three days to get the grass out of the circle. I will note that is was much easier after we had rain. It seemed to just roll up like carpet once it was wet…but it was heavy! Luckily for me, we live next to a bunch of empty lots, so I was able to toss the grass over our fence and into a field! Once the grass was removed, the next simple task was to remove lots of dirt. Thirty-six inches deep, (we went about the same depth as our trampoline was high, knowing we’d be raising the trampoline frame and adding rock, so ultimately it was about 3 inches above ground) and fourteen feet diameter is a very large hole. Whatever amount of dirt you think you might remove, triple it. If you think you have understood it then, double that. I wasn’t sure just how much we would have, so I decided to build a garden. I thought I use a lot of the dirt in this garden. First I had to remove a lot of river rock, build a brick wall to hold the garden, and then toss the dirt in. Pack it down, the toss more in. Rinse and repeat….and repeat.
  But enough about the garden area….I spent basically the next five to six weeks digging. And digging. Eventually I had to wheel barrow the dirt out the back yard, across the front yard and into the field next door. Now that was a lot of dirt. After doing that for a day, I decided I needed yet another garden area. So I removed another 2 tons of rock from the front walk area and dumped dirt there for a future garden area. After that week, I went back to dumping the dirt into the field. If you think you get how much dirt that is, triple it. Get it now? Double that amount in your mind.
Finally, with a few hours of help from my husband, I learned a few things: One, he works a lot faster than I do, two, the kids seems to need less when he and I are working together, and three, the two of us together manage to move a lot of dirt out of that hole! Once the dirt was gone from the hole and basically level, we built the frame, then placed it on cut cinder blocks, and leveled each block to ensure the frame itself was level. With a rented one man auger, we dug holes for posts, poured QuickCrete in the holes, put in posts for the framed wall. Also, with the Auger, we put two holes in the center of the circle and I dug small trenches from the perimeter to those holes for drainage. In this area, we don't get a lot of rain, but when we do, it can do a lot of damage and pool. We needed to make sure we had good drainage away from the dirt walls around the massive hole.

After the quickcrete was dry, I added landscaping fabric and 1.5 tons of rock. Yep, more moving rock for this Supermom!
 And yes, by this time I was exhausted! I dropped the wheel barrow in the hole once and twice in the yard. After I dropped the last wheel barrow load, my 7 year old daughter and I just sat there throwing rock into the hole from the pile in the yard.
Then the boys came in and built walls to frame the hole. I sat there for about a day and passed over a piece of wood to my husband so he could measure and cut, drill and tack until this wall was built. I don’t think the earth around this trampoline will be going anywhere anytime soon.
Then I dumped a bit of rock behind the wall, and we back filled dirt behind the walls. Tamped it down and poured more dirt down behind the walls.                                                                              We secured the trampoline frame to the wall… just in case, put the mat on and I was the first person to jump! I love it, I haven’t been able to get my kids off of it, and I think it will provide years of fun! We are not quite done yet. Not only do I now have two gardens to plant and set up drip lines, but I also need to build a small berm around the trampoline with new sod so the small space between the wooden wall, frame, and ground are covered. I think after two months of plowing through this project just to get it all done, I may just take my time on all of that. I also have to grass repair to do…who knew a full wheel barrow would cause so much harm?

We did go through a fun journey with our friends, family and neighbors while working on this project.  I think the most popular of 'what could the hole be' guesses was a margarita pool.

We also tried to get CU out here to get some great pictures of the Super Moon.
But the night of the Super Moon we had clouds and then rain....and woke to this the next day...
Once the rain cleared, we tried to make Contact again, but after building it, no one came, 
and no one phoned home.
Then school ended and our oldest daughter knew her birthday was near.  She wants a skateboard!

Finally, I came back to reality and thought about the beginning of this journey and how I was doing it for the kids.  I was exhausted, my husband was working too hard and one day I just didn't feel like digging anymore, so I figured, the kids would like a ball pit just the same!

Now that it's in, I can say two things:
1) I am damn proud of myself.  I had no idea I could do something this big and mostly alone, while managing three children, their schedules, two cats, two gerbils, a fish and of course our wonderful Saint Bernard and his many trips to the eye doctor!
2) This better last a long damn time and my kids better enjoy it, because if they don't I won't let them forget all I did to give it to them! 
Okay...three things.  You can have a landscaper or even general laborers dig your hole. There are also landscapers that will install for you.  But the character I built in my children and the pride in myself was well worth two months of hard work, and I wouldn't have done it any other way!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mommy War

Just last night I was telling my husband that I was at war with motherhood. Parenting blew up in my face yesterday and I was wiping shrapnel off my shoulders and pulling glass out of my hair and eyes all day! For years we used Love and Logic - and guess what- it worked, and it was easy with my girls. Then I had a boy and I forgot how to be empathetic unless my son was sleeping - then I felt all kinds of empathy, but for myself and my lack of sleep for 5 years. He just turned three and now I am finally back on track with Love & Logic. I laugh at myself sometimes when I sing uh-oh, and I feel so empowered when I dish out a consequence and my son understands why it’s happening. Then yesterday he decided to fight back. When it was time to get my daughter from school, he decided he didn’t want to try to go potty. It’s been a rule since he potty trained a month ago – get all your pee-pee out before we get in the car. He wouldn’t go. I decided to allow natural consequences happen if he chooses not to pee before we leave the house. We get to school and he’s playing and building a factory out of large rocks. I thought for a moment tornado must have come through and tossed a factory wall through the air, but I knew it was my son throwing large rocks. While talking to my friend, I knew it would be easier to just say, “Hey, rock factory builder, don’t do that again, okay?” But trying to get back into Love & Logic, instead I walked over and said “Uh-Oh, if we choose to throw rocks, we can’t play with them.” Then I quietly put the remaining rocks in the rock pile and walked away with my son in my arms. Son-0, Mom-1, right? Then he realized he was in my arms and not building a rock factory and decided plucking my throat and sticking his tongue out at me was a great reaction to pulling him away from the rocks. I’m on a roll with loving consequences and I’m loaded with empathy, so without saying much beyond an ‘uh-oh,’ I take him to the car and tell him because he chose to pluck me and stick his tongue out at me, he’ll have to wait in the car (that is just a few feet from where we were standing outside by the way) until his sister is out of school. About three minutes later, his sister and I walk to the car and I’m thinking how great this will be, sure there will be tears, but I’m confident they won’t be mine at least. I get to the car and start off with love and logic choices right away. “Do you want to climb in your car seat or would you like me to put you in your car seat?” I’m so winning! Though sobs and tears, I hear, “I don’t want you to touch me (I’m thinking, uh oh, how sad) because I am wet.” !! Wet? I look at him and his pants are soaked and even worse…his brand new shoes are wet. Yep, the shoes we just bought two days prior because, guess….he peed in the old shoes and I couldn’t get them clean. Sure, they were several months old and he was ready for new shoes, but really they smelled like pee and once they were peed in, they needed to be replaced….you know, so he could pee in new shoes! Son-1, Mom-1 We’ll be okay. I pull the shoes off, take off his pants, get him in the car seat and drive home. Vinegar, Lysol and sunshine fix the shoes, and I’m back to winning. Within minutes of being home and trying to remain calm and empathetic, we get a call from a friend that invites us over to play. Sure, we’d love to. We get ready, get out to the car and I notice his car seat is urine soaked! Thanks to some Tide stain remover, Lysol and some diapers to sit on, we were able to hop in and go play.

Fast forward a few hours later, we decide to head to the movies. You know, I’m not having such an easy day so far, so why not throw in an evening at the theatre - on a school night, during dinner time, with three young children who all expect their own drinks and their own huge box of candy to consume in only an hour and a half – why not? My son follows my lead and pees on the potty before we get in the car. He won’t go before the movie. No big deal. After the movie he says he has to go….but he won’t. I have a potty in my car just for those occasions when he won’t use a public restroom. I almost wish I had one for myself! When we get to the car I remind him of the little potty in the back of the car. He won’t go. Only about five miles from the theater he has to go. Another ten minutes go by and he has to go very badly. I can’t hear Jim Fay in my head telling me a great sing song catch phrase to use filled with love and empathy. I pull off the interstate, take him out of the car to use the little potty and he throws a fit and tells me he wants to hold it until we get home. We drive. Another seven minutes goes by and he says he has to use the little potty. We are about five minutes from home, but I pull into a neighborhood, take him out of the car and put him on the potty where he pees. When I pull up his underwear I notice they are a little wet. “Sorry, Mommy.” I want so bad to lecture him about going before we get into the car…or hey, go on the side of the road if I stop, but I just hugged him. Well, I may have slipped in one, “Maybe we should try to go potty before we get in the car.” “Sorry, Mommy.”

Mommy-1 Son-4,856,478,895

Mommy Losing