Way back in February we had this genius idea of getting the kids a swing set for a combined birthday present. We even proposed the idea to extended family suggesting they might contribute to the playground fund instead of sending gifts. Even though the idea was not widely adopted (it seems there is some sort of a stigma surrounding cash gifts), we had already found a great deal on a swing set and committed ourselves to building it when we gave Cooper a picture of it for his birthday in May. (Hell seriously knows no fury like an autistic child whose reality does not match up with an idea that’s gotten into their head.)
Thus, we drained the fund we’d saved up to build planter boxes in the front yard (we can garden for the next 50 years, but the kids won’t always be little) and the swing set was ordered. While we waited, we took care of a few landscaping issues. Nothing big, just chopped down a tree, dug up a few stumps, and removed a significant square footage of grass.
One June afternoon, a giant pallet was finally dropped in our driveway. The description indicated the whole thing could be assembled in about 10 hours and while we had our doubts we figured we could get the whole thing up and running with a long Saturday and perhaps a few evenings of work.
Before advancing past step number two of the assembly manual, we realized there was a problem. Really, a few problems: warped lumber, holes drilled in the wrong places and a beam with a significant amount of dry rot.
We halted our work to do a full inventory of all the parts before contacting the company’s customer service. Fortunately, the company was really good about sending out replacement parts.
In the meantime, we improvised keeping the kids entertained.
After the new parts arrived we set to work again. It took an entire day just to lay landscaping fabric, build the main tower and get the ground underneath it level enough to please our in-house engineer.
Every Saturday we weren’t traveling we’d do a little bit more, sometimes working with headlamps after the kids went to bed. If me posing with nursing covers or taking pictures of food in the backyard hadn’t already convinced the neighbors we were a bit odd, this surely did. The next morning the kids would race outside to see what new gizmos had been added on.
By the time school started back up, we’d finally gotten the whole thing together and we were just waiting for a new budget to roll over so we could give it the finishing touches.
Last weekend, Noel went to two different Home Depots before 7am to rent a truck. At first we weren’t even sure if they would rent it to us because they’d had a bad experience with someone else trashing a truck when they hauled loose gravel. Luckily, the guy was nice and said, “I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear what you said you were doing with it and make sure you bring it back clean.” I’m pretty sure we returned it cleaner than we got it so no harm (or fees) were done.
We carted wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of mulch and hauled railroad ties from the front yard to create a border. (Best workout ever.) Then we painted the whole thing with a clear sealant and did the hardest thing of the whole journey: kept the kids off it for two days. It only took the entire summer, but the swing set is finally done! I can only imagine what kind of a haphazard deathtrap this swing set would be if we’d put it together in only ten hours.