Setbacks on the way to the bare bones finish line…

We are nearing the bare bones finish line. The finish line that means leaving no major holes for our squirrel to hole up in the fort for the winter. At times I will jokingly refer to the squirrel and bunnies who live in our yard as our pets. I try to convince the kiddos that not only are our pets happy living their best life outdoors, we get to enjoy them while we are inside looking out the window and while playing outside alongside them. Who can forget how much fun it was the time the squirrel peed on me? Definitely not me. So while we love our pets they tend to be kinda messy and not at all considerate about managing their output. So I’d really rather they not take up residence in our fort.

That being said here is our must do list:

  1. Put in the long lookout window facing the street
  2. Side the final triangle (it was going to be a window, but huge sheets of plexiglass are expensive, tricky to cut and we don’t feel like doing it)
  3. Waterproof the roof: this involves covering the seams with some black sticker thing that is rubber like. We also plan to paint the plywood roof with Duck Coat which makes a rubbery type membrane. My only beef is that it is bright white. Who wants a bright white roof? We are looking into see if it can be tinted or painted over….
  4. Caulk the largish gaps

Our should-do-list is much longer (latches for doors and windows and plenty more)… and our finish-do-list in the spring may be even longer yet.

We’ve hit a few setbacks. The first of which is math. Let’s be real, hardly anyone likes math. I took AP Stats in high school and lucked out of math all throughout college (hooray for nursing!) Not a day has gone by where I have missed doing math. The only math I actually like doing is calculating how much things cost after killer clearance sales. So when we were siding the front side of the fort and these were the cuts we had to make….

We weren’t exactly thrilled.

I will say though, we did these cuts and it fit like a glove. Let’s be honest Brett’s dad did most of the cutting and Brett and I were physically present. My dad always taught me to say we if you were casually around something successful and to clearly name the party if something went downhill. So when we did these cuts it only needed one tiny little shave before the whole thing fit.

Our other setbacks include our drill crapping out. It had lived a pretty decent life for being so cute and little. We found an awesome deal for a set including: a new drill, a sawzall and an impact driver (like a drill only it makes a really annoying noise while you screw things in- but is much easier to use). We used all of these tools for 2 days and then the impact driver crapped out. There was apparently no possibility of an exchange, just a return of all the tools. So now we are back to limping our drill along. It feels a lot like in college when Emily and I would take the stairs to our third floor dorm room to be healthy or something, but we’d really just wish we had taken the elevator. One of us would inevitably have to coach and coax the other that it really was less effort to do the final half flight of stairs than it would be to go back down a half flight and catch the elevator the rest of the way. If you can’t relate, I don’t know what to tell you – we were lazy. Anyway our drill is like that, it’s sorta capable but it’s heart really isn’t in it.

Here is Gideon modeling the doors:

My dad expressed concerns that we didn’t get his measurements before cutting the circle door. I told him we will just have to give him a good ole heave ho and hope for the best. If nothing else, getting stuck could be quite the diet plan. Not any worse than his previous diets, one of which included exclusively garbanzo beans and coffee.

It’s not all setbacks around here though. The wood scraps have been a hit with the kiddos. We set up a pretty sweet obstacle course with lots of jumping, balancing and even some backwards shuffling.not visable house number.jpg

We have managed to finish nearly all the siding and put on the circle door for the front hobbit entrance. I’ll save those pictures for next time. (This is the obnoxious part like on the radio where they say, “coming up top 5 reasons why Minnesota is the best ever” and  then it goes to commercial. You of course change it to another station, but a part of you doesn’t want to miss the top 5 reasons, but yet you feel like you are playing into their hand if you turn it back even a second before the commercials are over. You know of course in your head Minnesota is already awesome and these 5 reasons won’t really change your view of it, but sometimes you just want to feel awesome.) So yeah next time be prepared to see an awesome fort.





And you just might be getting had right now.


Roofing, Walls and Wanting to be Done

Well, we have reached the inevitable part of the project where we really just want to be call it. I’ve toyed with the idea of an open concept fort. You know the kind of fort where we could just be done because we decide not to side the fort. It would leave all the untreated wood exposed to rot and it would ruin the whole vision for the fort… but on the other hand we could be done.

Since the last update we finished the roof! It was just as haphazard and fun as the initial piece of plywood roofing (in case sarcasm is not your strong suit – it was haphazard, but no, it really wasn’t fun). The only plus side was that we had to lift each sheet of plywood slightly less far above our heads, making it only slightly less dangerous as we went.

This has been our first project where the kids have really been right there the whole time. They have enjoyed each phase of construction; loads of mud, unattended hammers, and power tools. Levi especially loved climbing all over the framing. Gideon mostly loved dumping out all the screw boxes. It really never got old (to him). The worst injuries have been a pair of splinters, so I can’t complain.

The sun going down earlier has made for some extra challenges. We were used to doing some work with kiddos around and then doing the heavy lifting or thinking intensive parts after putting the kiddos to bed. We managed to finish the roof with a cell phone light and facing the van headlights towards the fort. In total it took 5 sheets of plywood. Three for the climbing wall side and 2 for the less sloped part of the roof.

We didn’t take much of a break after finishing the roof to get started on the siding. We ended up going with a Pine plywood siding. It has vertical slats for some interest, it was relatively cheap and we can paint or stain it to seal it.


Turns out our fort design did not take into account that we are not big fans of figuring out angles, taking lots of measurements and cutting out for windows. There was one wall that did not have janky angles or cut outs, so of course we did that one first. And we managed to screw it up. We didn’t think about the overlap functionality until we had already screwed the siding on and cut the second piece of plywood. At which point we totally saw how one piece was meant to go under and the second piece overlap. Yeah, we cut off the under part of the first sheet, so the over part on the second didn’t exactly have anything to go over. Instead of wasting whole sheets, we will probably add a hint of caulk where necessary. We don’t want it to turn into a prissy fancy fort the kids will never play in. So of course we are careful to not be too careful. Lucky for us that comes very naturally to us.

This is the first side we attempted. It has the lookout window facing towards the street. The part you can kinda see sticking out is the door for grown-ups. It’s still a work in progress. I’m pretty sure we have hinges on the inside when they should be outside, or something since it really can’t open. I mean I don’t want to be a stickler, but a door that doesn’t really open is a bit of a buzzkill.

Brett has been much more motivated than I have. While I have been offering up helpful tidbits like, “that seems really hard,” “this part sucks” or “I’m pretty sure we are going to ruin the whole thing,” Brett has been actually doing the work. He’s been a master with the jigsaw. He also has been carrying the gumption and can-do attitude.

The second wall had two windows and some crazy angles to work with. We tried our old tiling trick of cutting cardboard to fit the space, so we could just trace the angle. Just goes to show cardboard is not only for awesome 3D models…

Well, I was a little sloppy in making the cardboard template which lead to a little bit of a sloppy angle cut. It wasn’t too far off, but could have it been more correct? Sure. The funny thing is we own one of these angle do-jobs and have zero clue how to use it. I mean I do use it to trace my cardboard template, but yeah what do all the numbers mean? Who knows and why are there so many options!?

Brett’ dad is back today to help us with the front side, which is the most wack-job of all. Levi keeps reminding us winter is coming, so we better get a move on!