Friday, July 23, 2010

Can I build it?

When I was a teenager, I remember showing up to a babysitting gig and being greeted by two very excited little boys. “Mommy built us a sandbox!” This was not any ordinary sandbox. It was huge, with a roof, benches, a lid and storage areas for the sandbox toys. I was amazed. Inspired. I had never met a mom that used power tools.

That summer, my dad let me use some of his tools to try some simple projects. I made some planter boxes, a decorative wishing well planter and some small patio tables. After that, I received tools and DIY books for Christmas and birthday gifts. By the time I finished university and branched out on my own, I had a full set of hand tools, a jigsaw, a drill, a router and a palm sander.

For years, I mostly used the tools for home improvement projects like hanging things, fixing things and refinishing cabinets, etc. I did build islands for the kitchens in both my first home and our current home, but those were fairly simple in terms of carpentry and were more about the tile work.

Then one day in February, someone posted a link on their blog to Knock Off Wood. I spent hours on the site looking at Ana’s designs and seeing that regular non-builder people were building furniture that looked like furniture. I remembered Mrs. V. and the sandbox. I dusted off my tools and decided to tackle a bed for Lisa.

It’s not finished yet. I want to do one more coat of paint on the headboard and footboard and I’m thinking about doing upholstered side rails. In total, this solid wood bed frame cost about $180, including paint. I finished it over 2 weekends.  Here are the plans from Ana's site.

This is just a sneak peak/progress shot.  It's in her room now, but still not finished (I had to assemble it in the room and I still haven't painted/upholstered the side rails!)  This sucker is big and heavy!

Homer was impressed. Inspired. When we were offered a pile of used 2x4’s for FREE, we accepted and built ourselves a workshop. I designed it and put it all together. Homer helped cut the wood to size with a circular saw.

Homer uses the back area to tinker around with small electronics

I mostly use this bench in the middle to build new things and refinish old things

My little Star Wars fanatic needed something to store his stash of lightsabers.

Behold the Lightsaber Rack. I whipped this up in less than an hour, including the paint! The hooks set me back about $5, but the rest was all from scraps I had laying around.

Maggie has such a tiny room that I’m always looking for different storage items. I found this PB Kids replica at Knock Off Wood.

Maggie added the little butterflies and has filled it with her favourite books and DS games. This was also made from scrap wood.

For the ten years we have lived in this house, we have never had a TV in the living room (much to Homer’s chagrin). I finally broke down and allowed it, and now it’s mounted on the wall. We needed something to store all the stuff that couldn’t be mounted on the wall. Homer didn’t even think twice about asking me to design/build something. Here’s what I came up with.

I love it. It’s solid wood, custom built for our needs and cost about $80 to build, including all the wood, screws and stain.

I have many more projects in mind; I’m just waiting for some spare time to get them going.

So, can I build it? Yes I can! (Uh, I think so).

Just for fun, I'm linking up to the Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Night Special.  I get lots of ideas from this feature.


Monday, July 19, 2010

A familiar topic here

Those of you who have been reading here for awhile know that one of my biggest safety fears is water. We have a large, in-ground pool in our backyard and this is honestly the first year since before we had kids that I haven’t looked at it as a big, giant hazard just waiting to swallow up one of my kids. We’re really enjoying it this year, especially since July has been so hot.

At 9, Lisa is really enjoying jumping in, swimming around and diving for objects at the bottom of the shallow end. She’s allowed to have friends over, but no more than 2 at a time.

At 7, Bart swims around the shallow end and will dive down for objects, but puts on his lifejacket for swimming and jumps into the deep end. He’s allowed to have 1 friend over. I tell the parents about the depth of our pool and let them decide about the need for lifejackets, floaties, etc. They all come with one or the other.

At 4, Maggie does not enter the pool fence without her lifejacket. She’s still too short to stand in the shallow end and she’s not a confident enough swimmer to not panic if she accidentally fell in. Her friends don’t come over yet without a parent.

Maggie likes to test the limits, and was insisting that she could sit at the pool edge with just her feet in without a lifejacket. She was adamant and it was becoming a battle every time we went out to the pool. I finally sat her down and told her the story about Bart falling in the pool when he was 4. She listened intently and kept asking, with wide eyes, “and then what happened?” The part that really convinced her was when I said, “and then I cried and cried because I was so scared for Bart.” Her will melted and she has not questioned the lifejacket rule since.

When we take them to a lake, we go in with them. If there’s any chance for an undertow, they are not allowed to go in past their waists and all three wear lifejackets. Our favourite beaches have lifeguards and roped-off swimming areas.

Over-protective? Probably. Am I teaching them to fear the water? Yep. That’s the thing: I think they SHOULD have a healthy fear of the water. Hopefully it will make them more alert, more aware when they’re out of my sight and too old for my rules, but not too old to break my heart if the unthinkable happened.


It’s National Drowning Prevention Week here in Canada. Have you seen this article? It’s definitely worth a read.