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!