Tag Archives: swing set

The Coolest Swingset on the Block

Last week, something kind of crazy happened in our yard.
We painted the swingset!

The swingset is only about two years old, but the wood was showing a lot of wear and tear. The elements around here are pretty rough. We have a near-constant horrible wind situation that I believed help beat the stain right off our swingset. There is almost never a day where I don’t whine about the wind. I’ve nearly lost a child-filled stroller or cart in parking lots so many times because of the crazy local wind. You add snow, rain, sun and climbing children to the mix and the wood was balding fast despite our best efforts to water seal it.

This is actually our second swingset. We inherited our house’s “old” swingset when we moved in, but the wood to it rapidly decayed and it became unstable by our second or third year here. Considering the age of our house, the original swingset wasn’t old enough to need tearing down, but there it was. It was totally unsafe to use. Now we are overly paranoid about the life of our swingset’s wood. When my husband saw this year’s wear and tear on the swingset, he wanted to stain it instead of water seal it. I wondered if we might have more fun with exterior paint.
We debated a bit on what color to paint it before I had a vision to paint it freaking adorable. You’d be amazed at how few painted swingsets come up on google and pinterest. The lack of images made me worry that I might be insane. What if it turned out ugly? What if my neighbors thought it was an eyesore? All in all, it was a paranoia fest, but I went forward anyway.

Just to make things more crazy, I let the KIDS pick the colors (though I picked the tones) AND help paint it.
They loved helping, but they wasted so much paint and were so annoying, that I had to cut this short before what was supposed to be an enjoyable experience turned into me losing my temper. Lily was somewhat decent at painting, but Rose is only 3. Based on this experience, do not let a 3 year old paint a swingset if you don’t want to lose your mind. Seriously. Three year olds CAN NOT PAINT. AT ALL. She got more paint on her than on the swingset.

The project cost more than I expected. When you look at a swingset, there doesn’t seem to be much to paint. What I forgot to account for was the fact that every piece of wood on it has four sides. The thing also sucked up a lot of paint. We ended up using three full gallons of Behr exterior paint instead of the three quarts I originally brought home for the project.

Time will tell how the exterior paint does on the swingset, but for now I’m just enjoying the way it looks. And, much to my relief, most of my neighbors seem to like the swingset too. Unless they are just being nice. Their kids like it anyway and now a lot of neighborhood kids are harassing their parents for painted swingsets. It will be interesting to see if our neighborhood swingsets are all still bare wood next year.



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A few weeks ago, Rose was playing on the swingset and she got stung by a wasp. It was her first ever sting and she was understandably very upset about it. Me too.

The next day, Rose was playing on the swingset again when a bunch of wasps swarmed her out of nowhere. She started crying, but wouldn’t tell us what was wrong. My husband insisted she’d been stung again, but I was convinced she was just scared of the wasps since she’d been stung the day before. I mean, what 2 year old gets stung by wasps two days in a row? That would be pretty bad luck.

I asked Rose if she was scared and she said yes. I asked her if she’d been stung and she said now. She kept crying and crying to the point where I told her to get over it, the wasps weren’t by her anymore. I know wasps are scary, but she should just stay away from them and she’ll be fine.

Thirty minutes later she told me the wasp “boo booed” her and showed me a red welt on her neck where a wasp had indeed given her a boo boo. I’ve probably had five bee/wasp/hornet stings in my entire life. At age 2, Rose has had 2 two days in a row. I had just told her to get over herself about being near a wasp because she was OK. She was not OK! The wasp had stung her and I didn’t even know it. It was a bad mom moment!

My husband and I searched the swingset for a wasp nest and found nothing. We were baffled as to where they were coming from, but hoped it had been a fluke and our kids wouldn’t get hurt again.

We didn’t play outside for a while because of one of those awful heat waves we had this summer. Finally one day it was nice enough to play outside. The girls ran out to the swingset, climbed the rock wall and were immediately swarmed by wasps.

No one was stung this time. I had them get off the swingset and followed the wasps back to their home. A giant wasp’s nest was wedged in between the rock wall and the floor of the slide tower. It was hidden in a way that you almost had to be upside down and wedged under the rock wall to see it. So much for our previous thorough search of the swingset! Every time the girls climbed the rock wall, they were making the wasp’s nest shake and the wasps came out to defend their territory.

Needless to say, we killed those wasps.

The wasps won’t let the case rest, however. Although they haven’t stung anyone else, more wasp’s nests keep popping up at various hidden locations on our swingset. They like to hide themselves in the roof of it. Lily has been finding them and pointing them out to us. My husband destroys the nest and the wasps get to work again.

Wasps, I know our swingset and front porch are awesome, but they belong to us. Please make your home elsewhere.

Also, I will never accuse Rose of just being scared again. If she’s crying after seeing a wasp, I should just assume she got stung. Apparently ignoring bees and wasps like I’ve always done doesn’t always keep you from getting stung two days in a row.



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Security Breach

The other day, Lily kept announcing she wanted to play outside. I told her we would go outside after I’d taken my shower and gotten dressed. The girls were playing together so nicely at that point that I didn’t bother turning on the tv to distract them or ask them to come upstairs with me.

When I got out of the shower, the house was pretty quiet. I called downstairs to see if everything was ok and Lily claimed that it was. I got dressed and came downstairs to find… no kids.

They went outside without me!

Rose is only 2.5 years old. This is NOT ok. Even at 4.5, I’m not OK with Lily being out in the yard without my at least a) being aware of it and b) being near a window. I also have a rule that the dog has to be out there protecting them if I’m not physically out there yet. They are usually out there alone for no more than 5 minutes while I gather stuff to take outside, go to the bathroom or get them snacks. It’s a fenced yard and they’ve never left the fenced area on their own even though they know how to open the gate, but I worry about kidnapping or someone getting injured or someone breaking the rules and wandering around the neighborhood without me.

I came outside and reprimanded them for going out without me only to learn that it was worse than I thought. ROSE had gone outside first and had been out there without Lily for “a long time” before Lily joined her. The dog was out here, but my 2.5 year old had been in the yard unattended and without my knowledge for who knows how long while I was taking my time in the shower and putting on clothes.


I’ve taken measures to insure this never happens again beyond just saying “NO!” I WILL still be taking showers with children downstairs BUT the tv will always be on when this happens and the sliding glass door will have the out-of-reach-to-a-4-year-old security bar down.

Yeesh. You THINK your kids are finally old enough to trust to behave themselves while you take a shower and then something like this happens! Silly girls. I guess at least they weren’t fighting?


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Toy WTF: Nameplate

We finally finished our swing set on Wednesday.

It looked like it was done for the last few days of construction, but a bunch of the adorable details needed to go up before it was finished.

But, technically, if you read the instructions, we are not finished yet. We skipped what is obviously a vital piece of our swing set.

That’s right, after 30ish hours of construction (when 8 were predicted) and tightening hundreds of screws and bolts at sometimes precarious angles, our swing set is not complete until we drill in the brand name.

Will our swing set fall down without this?

I actually tried to get my husband to install this because I thought it was hilarious, but I lost that debate. I could technically do this myself, but he’s right. Their expectation of us to install this is completely obnoxious.

Seriously, Gorilla, if you want your brand name on the swing set in other people’s backyards, YOU put the screws into the wood to display it. The people who just spent 30 hours building a swing set aren’t going to do it.

Other than that and our unexpected new tooth cost induced by the new swing set, we love this thing. It’s way cuter than the house we’re living in. Also, the kids seem to think it was a wise investment.

This seems like an insane thing for a 22 month old to be able to do.

Swing set fans forever.


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Inaugural Swing Set Injury

The swing set wasn’t even finished yet when Lily decided it best to Christen it with its first injury. I mean, it wouldn’t REALLY be a swing set until somebody got hurt. Although, come to think of it, our old, unstable, rotting, UNSAFE swing set never hurt anybody and we bought this swing set so the kids would be safe. Irony. Go figure.

After we ordered the swing set and showed Lily a picture, she immediately told everyone she knew that her new swing set had a telescope. When you are a future engineer/scientist, telescopes are VERY exciting, way more exciting than having your own clubhouse with windows that open and shut.

So when the swing set was nearly complete, we brought out the telescope and let her play with it. It seemed harmless enough. I mean, it’s just a plastic tube with no sharp edges. There didn’t seem to be any reason why she couldn’t play with it before it was attached.

Apparently this is a foreboding picture.

Little did I know…

Lily was looking at Rose on the swing through the telescope. She was a safe distance away from the swing so I didn’t think about asking her to back away. Unfortunately, the telescope was NOT at a safe distance. Rose kicked the telescope and it hit Lily in the mouth.

She started crying. There was blood. And I screamed “OH. MY. GOD. DID IT HIT YOUR TOOTH? DID YOU BREAK YOUR TOOTH AGAIN?!

And Lily spit out a big chunk of tooth. She broke the exact same tooth she broke LAST TIME. The prostetic patch of tooth came right out and took little bit more with it. She looked exactly the same as last time. It was total deja vu.

The second time around, seeing her tooth like this was not at all shocking.

In fact, it’s total deja vu. Although I witnessed her breaking the tooth this time and have no idea what happened last time, the situation is eerily similar. When she broke her tooth in March, we were supposed to leave to visit her paternal grandparents 8 hours away the next day. That was the last time we planned a trip out there. We are supposed to go to her paternal grandparents house on Saturday!

Is the tooth cursed? Is she going to break it every time we are supposed to visit her grandparents?

This time they were able to fix her tooth right away.

Breaking your tooth is so much fun! She told me all about how Peppa Pig ALSO broke her tooth.

She was very lucky because the root was not damaged even though the tooth has suffered two injuries in five months. This time she didn’t fight the dentist and this replacement looks way better than the last one did. I joked that maybe she broke the tooth because she wanted a better replacement. The dentist was not amused even after I explained I knew the shape of the old tooth was due to Lily’s lack of cooperation. He couldn’t get it the perfect shape last time while she was kicking and screaming.

Nitrous Oxide Addicts are so cool.

To add insult to injury, we learned that our dental insurance only covers one broken tooth every two years. Because we all run around breaking teeth on purpose. I know I always check my calendar and my dental records before I set out to break a tooth. Breaking teeth is so much fun! I’d hate to miss my chance to break a tooth while it’s partially covered (still very expensive).

Since she broke THE SAME tooth only 5 months ago, we had to pay out of pocket for this repair. The swing set’s inauguration set us back another $245.

I can only hope the tooth fairy will be paying us back for that $500 baby tooth.

I wouldn’t expect anything less out of an expensive new toy. You can’t buy anything that costs more than $500 without having some other major cost pop out of nowhere. The office manager is going to try to submit it as a medical claim, but she doesn’t sound very optimistic about it.

Anyway, I hope since we started out this swing set with such a big bang that our major injuries are out of the way.

And that Lily stops breaking her teeth every 5 months, because seriously. Not cool.


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Not for Short People

So we have all the tools and accessories required to build this swing set, but something almost went very wrong when it was time to put on the roof.

I don’t know how your average sized ladder is supposed to make it so you can reach the top of this roof, but my husband and I both realized this part of the project was meant for people much taller than us.

Recommended size ladder isn't tall enough when you are short.

I’m a whopping 5’3″. No matter what I stood on, I could not reach the top of this thing, much less tilt a drill at a proper angle to get a screw in properly. I can barely use a drill properly when I CAN reach things, which might be part of the reason we are on Day 4 of this project and aren’t finished. My husband is somewhat better than me with tools, but he’s only 5’6″ so he had trouble reaching things too. He had to stand on the swing set platform and stand on his tiptoes to reach to put in the top boards in the roof. It was incredibly awkward.

The whole time he was doing this, we were both thinking about how much easier it would be if one of us was properly tall. A tall person could reach this roof with no problems.

Instead, we were handicapped by our shortness. If my husband had been even an inch shorter, we might have lost an hour or so hunting down a taller ladder.

We put in another 3 hours today, bringing us to at least 24 hours of work, 3 times what was predicted. We aren’t finished yet. We have at least another couple of hours to go, but we’re getting close.

It may look done, but trust me there's a lot of work left to do.


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8 Hours

Our swing set instruction manual predicts complete assembly in 6-8 hours.

Swing Set Hour 5: Way more complicated to get to this point than you'd expect.

We’ve been at it at least 21 hours, not including the 3 hours my husband spent sorting and labeling parts, and while we have made good progress, we are nowhere near finished.

And yet our swing set instruction manual says we should have finished this project 13-15 hours ago.

This is what our swing set actually looked like at the 12 hours of labor ago. Totally done, right?

We knew our instruction manual would lie about the amount of time it would take to build the swing set. We are no strangers to this phenomenon, plus everything we read on the internet warned us about this fact. All of our friends whined about how time-consuming their own swing sets were to build. So when I read the 8 hour time prediction, I couldn’t help but laugh.

The prediction is just so ridiculous. Just looking at all the pieces that came with the kit, you can see that there’s no way that 8 hours will finish the project. There are 390 screws, 42 tee nuts, 99 washers and 72 bolts that need to be properly placed on an insane amount of wood and tightened in sometimes awkward positions.  That’s 603 specific pieces that need to be put in place, not including any of the wood or plastic.

My husband, our noble hero, drills the 350th-ish piece of hardware thus far.

What I figure is that Gorilla (our swing set company) did some mathematical equation that resulted in giving us 1 1/4 minutes per screw/bolt/what have you, and this equation resulted in 8 hours… but not everyone will take 1 1/4 minutes to use a drill, so clearly they needed to deduce 2 hours for the people who are better with tools than we are (every time I use screw, tool or wood in a sentence, I feel a little dirty).

This leaves no time for the stuff you REALLY need to do when building a swing set– like figuring out what unlabeled piece is what, finding it, assembling it correctly, making sure things are level, realizing you lost a screw in the grass, reading and rereading and RErereading the instructions and much more.

"Is this ladder level?" he thought and then continued to stare at it for 20 minutes.

We’re definitely making progress on the swing set (and by “we”, I mean 90% my husband 10% or less me thanks to childcare obligations and a shortage of tools), but we have a long way to go even after 21 hours. It will forever remain a mystery to me why manufacturers (AND chefs for that matter) can’t be honest about the construction times. The truth is ugly when it comes to these time commitments, but wouldn’t it help us all schedule our projects better if we knew how long it would REALLY take?

I know it LOOKS almost done, but trust me it is not.

Tomorrow: Hey Gorilla, short people build swing sets too!



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More Fun with Shipping

I know you all are just DYING to hear if our swing set ever arrived.

Or maybe you don’t care at all.

Whatever the case, here’s the latest on the Swing Set Saga.

When we last left Swing Set Drama Manor, it was 4:30 pm-ish and I still hadn’t gotten a call to warn me (not ask me) about what 4-hour window of time my swing set would arrive the next day. At 7:30 pm, my phone rang. And we couldn’t find it before it went to voicemail. We were cursing at each other for missing an important call.

Don’t worry, “they” called back again 2 minutes later. “They” were an automated voice message informing us that we needed to be home between 3 and 7 pm Wednesday to receive “a package”.

A COMPUTER told us less than 24 hours before our swing set was due that we HAD to be home after regular business hours. There was no way for us to say “Oh, that time doesn’t work for us” or even confirm that we could be there because a COMPUTER called us. The computer repeated itself twice with a phone number to call if there were issues, but if you didn’t have a pen or a really great memory, that information was gone awfully quickly… and probably led to a customer service facility that wasn’t open anyway.

It seems to me that when you pay a place $950 for something, they should at least have a HUMAN call you to make sure the window they gave you works. I said Wednesday was an ok day for us, but I think most of us would assume WEDNESDAY meant something like 8 am to 5 pm, not 7 pm. What if we had an evening commitment? Apparently we were supposed to have 24 hours free when they said “Wednesday”.

So, Wednesday was a waiting game. We waited and waited and waited.

Guess what time our swing set arrived? 3? 4? 5? 6?

Nope. 7:45 pm.

Exciting moment that should have happened nearly 5 hours earlier.

That’s right, they had a FOUR HOUR window to deliver this package and they were still 45 minutes late and didn’t call us about it until about 7:20 when I was already enraged and calling customer service, which closed at 7:30, but directed me to leave a message or call back tomorrow.


Whatever, the case, it’s here now and somehow we are expected to transform this

I thought you said I was getting a swing set!

and this

into this

Fictional swing set that will magically appear in our yard next week.

Man, Gorilla has a lot more confidence in us than we do.



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State of the Swing Set Delivery

I called Walmart about the swing set yesterday. After a lot of holding, the customer service rep patched me through to the people delivering the swing set. Why wasn’t I given that number to begin with? I don’t get it.

BUT ANYWAY, I updated my phone number no less than three times. They asked me if they could deliver the swing set Wednesday (tomorrow). I said fine. They said they’d call me back Tuesday (today) to give me a 4 hour window in which they’d deliver my FIVE HUNDRED POUND ITEM. You’d think you could get more specific with something that large, but WHATEVER.

Lily is in day camp this week. Other than drop off and pick up, I can be home, but obviously there’s two half hour periods I can’t be home. I was hopeful I could work around these two time slots with the company.

But guess what?

They haven’t called me today. It’s 4:39 pm Tuesday. When will my swing set be here tomorrow? Who the hell knows.

Again, the plight of the $100 shipping v. the $400 shipping (although we can all guess that $400 shipping would be just as bad or worse).

Will my swing set ever get here? Will I sit here all day tomorrow, but miss delivery because I’m dropping Lily off at day camp?

Stay tuned to Creative Kids Play’s Swing Set Adventure to find out!



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