Category Archives: Ideas

So, we built a swing set…


It was a fun family project.  We told the kids that birthdays & Easter would be light as we were putting a lot into the swingset.  I’m not sure they understood or cared.  Our moms helped with the purchase, too.  Bethany & I looked online at 6,487,932 swing sets, and narrowed it down to 15 or so in our price range.  I made a spreadsheet to compare them, because OCD or something.  Looking at the roadside swing sets at those places that also sell sheds and rocking chairs, we got a similar product for about ⅓ or ¼ of the price, albeit with no installation.

Installation is expensive, and now we know why.  Ha ha.  Everyone who knew we were getting one gave warning, so we weren’t surprised, but it was an interesting task.

It came in 3 boxes from Walmart.com, and we did in-store pickup because I measured & it all fit nicely in the family vehicle.

Yay, #swingset!

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It took two weekend days with one week night in between to get it done, but the first weekend day was slowed by the kids “helping,” a move-the-tools-in-because-it-looks-like-rain delay, and maybe even a “let’s undo that part because I put it on backwards” moment.  The week night was hindered by the fact that as soon as I attached the ladder & sliding board, the kids needed to test it out.

Bethany & I enjoyed the kids helping.  We do the Home Depot Kids Workshops so both kids are comfortable with a hammer & a screwdriver, and we have done some other stuff at home like carpet removal and hanging curtain rods where they have actually helped.

Hard at work!

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Had some "helpers" today, ha ha.

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My mom even got video of the little man showing off his ratchet skills;

We have been at the house for a few years now, but the project this year is another step to getting the back yard to where we want it, and next year we’ll work on the front.  Having some trees removed recently & moving our garden really opened up some space in the back yard.  I’d like to put in a fire ring, and a toy car race-track play area.  I actually proposed removing the Bean House to make room for the latter, but I was vetoed by a 2yo boy saying “Unh-uh, Daddy.  Hoooome.  Hooome.  Daddy, unh-uh.”  I really hope the beans take off this year.  I have some sprouts popping up already.  I have some squash around it too. I don’t think the soil is all that great there though.

I even recently built this Pinterest inspired potting bench…

Back to the swing set, we even got a few extra add-ons from Amazon, like the steering wheel, telescope, telephone, and some handles.  I think I want to replace the kitchen area tarp walls with some chalkboard-painted wood… and eventually when the canopy fades or dry-rots, I’d like to replace it with some type of solid roof.

"There's so much room for activities!" @CedarSummitPlay #Laurentian #PlaySet #Swingset

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At any rate, I encourage you to tackle a project as a family.  I encourage you to get kids outdoors.  I encourage you to not be afraid to give young kids some tools with a bit of guidance and a lot of supervision.  I encourage you to get them into building, gardening, cooking, and the business of imagination.  I encourage you to try projects yourself, and don’t be afraid to involve the whole family.  It’s amazing how much you can learn through Google, YouTube, and a maybe a few tries.

I think the kids like it…

So, in the spring I want to build an outdoor Matchbox car race track… 🚗


How cool is this?

Since the bean house was a bit of a bust, maybe this will be a hit.  It looks like it can get as complicated or remain as simple as you’d like.  I have pinned a bunch of ideas.  I’d like to include an area for construction vehicles… maybe tiny pebbles, not sand.  I hate sand.  I like the use of the tire in the one… and the dirt road, and tunnels.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to snag a bunch of ideas online, specifically Pinterest I guess. Looks super fun for both kids, and me!

Have you done anything like this?

So, the beans on our #BeanHouse are sad. 🌱


Heh.  We’ll have to try again next year.  Maybe it was the shade, maybe it was the bugs, maybe it was the timing, maybe it was a lack of Miracle Gro.  Did you see our posts about building it and hanging the sign?

This is all the growth we got:

And something ate our sunflower:

Deer (or something) destroyed this #sunflower pretty quickly, too. No luck gardening this year at all. Ha ha.

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Sigh.  Ha ha.

We finally hung the sign on our #BeanHouse. 🌱


Did you read about our #BeanHouse?

I was able to get some matte clear-coat spray this week and hit the sign a few times, although this stuff seemed to soak up the paint like a sponge.  We just used some particleboard from an old dresser drawer.  It was the perfect size.  I did the marker & colored the beans, the rest was all Molly.

Molly also got a tomato plant  from her Grandma BB, so we planted it right out front.  We tried the fork trick there too to deter bunnies, but if I remember right they’re not huge fans of tomatoes.  You never know what else is out & around either.

We also put out some organic bloodmeal to provide nutrients and hopefully deter critters.   Molly reminded me to put down grass clippings because they hold moisture.

I was thinking about putting out some cinnamon to keep the rabbits away too.  I just saw that coffee grounds keep away snails.  Do you have any other tips & tricks that seem to have worked for you in the past?  We did use garlic clips last year.  They seemed to work, but we did have a few incidents of snacking on our peppers.

No beans sprouting yet, but our Spanish onions just popped from seeds we planted a while ago.

Outdoor Gardening Fun With a #BeanHouse. 🌱


So, I dig gardening. (Get it?)  I have passed that on (so far) to my oldest child, and the little one really likes playing in the dirt.  I also enjoy doing things with the kids that are not only fun, but that allow me to sneak in some learning.

Today we set up a Bean House.  What’s a bean house?  I don’t know. That’s what my daughter wanted to call it & it’s really the most appropriate title.  We got the idea from a friend’s Facebook wall with instructions for a bean den and a willow den.

Basically, we built a play house that will act as a trellis for a (hopefully) vining bean plant.  I started with an area that had already been cleared thanks to a pile of brush that was recently removed.  Speaking of that brush that I have recently cleared form our jungle of a back yard; I grabbed 4 rather large branches with a “Y” shape, cut them to roughly the same length with the chainsaw, and sharpened the bottoms.  I dug some holes with a small gardening shovel and drove the posts in as far as I could, mounding up some dirt around each pole.  I used some gardening wire to secure four branches across the top for a nice little cube-ish frame.

Then, I let the munchkins “help” while I secured several smaller sticks across the top, down along the sides, and across the sides.  At one point we ran low on sticks, so I used some old wooden and bamboo tomato stakes.  The wooden stakes seemed to really help make the rest of the structure stable because I could really pound them into the ground well.  To secure everything, I used some newly purchased garden wire, and whatever twine and garden wire that we had leftover from previous years’ gardening adventures.

The top is a thatched mess of “wonky” branches that are woven together to provide slightly more shade than the sides, but will still be open for the growing vines.  My shelter would probably make Survivorman Les Stroud hang his head in shame, but it’s better than most of the shelters on Naked and Afraid.

The wife and little guy helped water the mounds so I could pack them down, and then I mounded dirt all around every post & they helped do the same.  Then we mulched the mound with grass clippings & packed it down again.

Finally I dug some holes for the pre-soaked Kentucky Wonder green bean seeds (beans?) around the base of the entire structure, and the whole family helped put in the seed-starter potting soil mix, the seeds, and some more dirt & mulch in place.  We placed some plastic forks facing outward all around the seeds at the base of the thing to hopefully help ward off the local overpopulation of rabbits.  I may try some additional deterrent like bloodmeal.

Later indoors, we found some other stuff and made a sign to hang once I get a coat or two of clear coat on it.

While we put it up, we talked about enjoying outside, building things, growing things, recycling and up-cycling, sunshine, water, and everything.  We talked about how grass clippings act like a mulch that holds moisture for the plants.  We talked about how the fertilizer and Miracle-Gro in the water acts like vitamins for the plants… vitamins like the one’s we’ll get from eating the beans.  I’m sure we’ll have discussions in the future about patience, including our little brother, and not knocking the bean house over.

My wife and I have always tried to talk to the kids with the same respect we’d give other adults.  We don’t use small words.  We explain things as best we can, encourage and answer questions.  I’m continually amazed at the observations that our daughter makes in conversation, and through our son’s actions that show an understanding of exactly what is going on.

If you’re reading this and are a parent, I ask you to narrate to your kids what you’re doing & why when you do an activity together.  You may think they’re too little to get it, but they’re constantly absorbing what you’re doing.

This is a great way to get into all kinds of stuff like gardening, up-cycling/recycling, food not lawns, urban farming, and striving to pass on the importance of such things as knowing how to grow food to your kids.  I’m excited to plant some tomatoes, peppers, and try a few new things this year.  I love going outside and seeing vegetable plants in the summer.  I love the smell of the dirt and growing plants.  I hope to pass this on and that the kids love it too.

All-in, I paid around $10 for the seeds, wire, & fertilizer.  Everything else we had here on hand or could have probably found easily for free.

Please, enjoy some photos and share some in the comments if you build your own!

I have another idea for a TV show… #YouDriveLikeAnAss!


OK, so TLC never got back to me about Missionaries Impossible (where Mormons & Jehovah’s Witnesses try to convert each other), but I will not let complete and total failure or lack of any interest in actually following up on these sorts of things keep me from writing a blog about my newest idea.

It’s called: You Drive Like an Ass!

(Hey, Shit My Dad Says made it to TV.)

All I’d need would be a car with cameras all over it.  I could drive it around for a week and have enough footage for an entire season of shows.  All I would have to do is drive the speed limit, and obey all traffic laws… then watch everyone around be driven completely insane by that type of apparently abnormal behavior.

I see things several times a day where people are breaking traffic laws that we all read in the book from driver’s ed, things that are unsafe, or just plain aggravating; Like flags on cars, or even worse… eyelashes-on-healights aggravating.  Don’t even get me started on bicycles.

Get some people to edit it, you have a super low-cost hit.  You wouldn’t even need a narrator.  Just get some clips of Samuel L. Jackson swearing & we can edit them all in.

If we were in the movie Idiocracy (and don’t think we aren’treally.), this would rival Ow My Balls!

Someone get on this, and send me the car and a royalty check.

#YouDriveLikeAnAss!

#YouDriveLikeAnAss!

Chick-fil-A’s response: “It’s not you, it’s me.”


Chick-fil-A wrote back to me, and sadly I predicted that they’d give me the “no unsolicited ideas” speech which is equivalent to the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech.  Shenanigans, I tell you.

From: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM
Subject: Chick-fil-A Response
To: <me@my.email.address>

Dear Valued Customer:

Thank you for taking the time to contact Chick-fil-A.  You are very important to us, and we appreciate your suggestion regarding the cup holders.  We hope the following information will be helpful.

Chick-fil-A is fortunate to have many loyal customers. Many of these fans take the time and effort to inquire about sharing their own ideas about ways they wish to see us improve – whether it is adding a specific new product, service or feature. We are grateful for our customers’ intent, and this motivates us to work even harder to keep improving.

Unfortunately, it is our corporate policy not to accept or consider any unsolicited creative ideas. This is a difficult decision because we realize that by following this policy, Chick-fil-A may miss out on some great ideas from our customers. We would rather miss out on some of these ideas than to risk any potential future misunderstanding should Chick-fil-A develop or already have developed a product, service, or feature that may seem similar to a customer’s idea.

We hope you will understand the reasons for our policy. You can view our Unsolicited Ideas Policy at www.chick-fil-a.com/Legal (under Submissions) for more information on this issue. Beyond this policy, we gladly welcome customers’ feedback about their restaurant experiences.

We appreciate your family’s loyalty, and we look forward to serving you all at Chick-fil-A for many years to come.  Again, thank you for your time and interest in Chick-fil-A.

Sincerely,

Cheala
Chick-fil-A CARES
Chick-fil-A…We Didn’t Invent The Chicken,
Just The Chicken Sandwich.
On the Web at www.chick-fil-a.com

P.S.  Please retain your ticket number.  This will help us locate your information should you need us again.

{ticketno:[8002084683]}

So, of course I wrote back…

From: <me@my.email.address>
Date: Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 4:56 PM
Subject: Re: Chick-fil-A Response
To: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>

Hello Cheala,

Any idea how I can get my idea solicited?  I’m honestly not interested in monetary compensation, I just don’t want to spill my drinks.  Has anyone run this by Mr. Cathy?  He’s responded to my emails before, and I understand that he’s a shrewd business man as well as a great family man.  I’m sure he wouldn’t want drinks spilling on anyone… and that he’d like to pick up a free idea.

Thanks once again for your time & help!

My pleasure,

-Eric

Wonder if I’ll get a reply?  I just want a good cup holder.

Dear Chick-fil-A, I have an idea for you…


I plan to send this to Chick-fil-A, and we’ll see where it goes.  I just realized, I’ve written about Chick-fil-A several times here before.

Dear Chick-fil-A,

I have an idea for you.  I realize that as a giant corporation you probably don’t accept unsolicited ideas, but please don’t let that stop you from considering this idea.  I don’t expect monetary payment, maybe just free Chick-fil-A for life?  (Maybe a limit to once a week?)  Well, I guess I should present my idea before we start talking payment or barter.

This past Saturday I went to the Chick-fil-A in South Hills to grab some of those ridiculously delicious Chick-n-Minis™ for breakfast.  I went into the store to order take-out so I could grab some mayo packets, ketchup, straws, & napkins at the little condiment station.  I got two drinks because I was taking breakfast home to share with the wife.  I opted for your highly addictive sweet tea, and the wife had a Hi-C Fruit Punch.  The always courteous employees offered me a drink carrier, and I accepted.  I thought it would make life easier on the ride home.  I saw wrong.

I set the drink carrier on the floor of the passenger’s side of my truck.  As I backed out of the space, it fell over on to the long side.  Your drink lids are thankfully quite tight, but sadly not entirely waterproof.  I leaned over and placed the carrier & drinks upright again, this time turning the drink holder 90 degrees the other way thinking I had outsmarted the laws of physics and that it would stay put.  I could not have been more mistaken.  As I turned up a hill to go out the back of the parking lot, it fell again.  I believe I uttered something using vocabulary that you may not approve.  At the stop sign, I had to pick up the cups and give up by putting them in the truck’s drink holders.

As I drove home trying not to think about the drops of Hi-C & iced tea soaking into my floor mats, I wondered if there was a better way.  I certainly like your drink carriers much better than the egg-crate 4 space things that just let cups lean over all willy-nilly.  I came to think that your drink carriers just need feet.  I thought the feet may take some extra cardboard, and wondered i something could be done with the existing design.

At home, my thoughts were fueled by poultry protein.  I pulled out my pocket knife and started cutting as my wife looked at me like I was a crazy person (as she does quite often).  I explained what I was doing and why and she actually also thought it was a good idea.

You already have some nice sturdy cardboard.  Two well-placed quarter-circle cuts & maybe even a fold mark in the middle of the carrier would create some nice sturdy feet or “wings” or your drink carrier box without the need for a complete redesign or any additional material.  I tested it by trying to rock the mostly empty drinks back & forth on the kitchen table.  We had no spills.  I am willing to try some field tests if you’d like to move forward with this idea.  My truck’s floor mats can handle it.  Perhaps I can even use water instead of red & brown sugary liquids.

I’m sure we could talk to your box people & find out if this is doable for a reasonable price.  I think it will be as important & innovative as the new Heinz® Dip & Squeeze® packets!  I have some photos attached that I’m sure you will agree are quite illustrative of my design ideas.  Sadly, my pocket knife is a cheap dull one, so the cut looks more like a rip.  I believe you’ll see my intent though.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and am excited at the opportunity that lays before us.  It would be my pleasure to help make this dream a reality!

Eat Mor Chikin!
-Eric

And the attached photos:

So, there we have it.  I mean, most of my letters are plain goofy, and this has a goofy tone, but really… don’t you think this would work? Now, we wait for a response.