DIY · Life

Blogging . . . “From a Treehouse?!”

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Remember that scene from “Home Alone” where Kevin lures Harry and Marv to his treehouse (during their attempt of burglary to his family’s home) so he can sabotage their efforts to capture him and comically injure them in the process, yet again? Well, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the dialogue:

Harry: Where did he go?
Marv: Maybe he committed suicide.
Kevin McCallister: Over here you horse’s-ass. Come and get me before I call the cops.
Marv: Let’s get him!
Harry: No, wait! That’s just what he wants us to do. To go back down through his fun house.
Marv: But he’s gonna call the cops!
Harry: He’s not gonna call the cops . . . from a treehouse?!

That sort of sums up the level of mobile technology that the year of 1990 had to offer. How things have changed in very little time—well, I guess 27 years isn’t what you’d call “little time.” As much as I enjoy the ease of technology today and what it has to offer to simplify our life, this movie does make me nostalgic for simpler times.

To be certain, blogging from a treehouse is reality today—that is, if I wanted it to be a reality in my own life or an option, for that matter. Frankly, I don’t have the patience to blog from an iPhone. My fingers tend to feel claustrophobic with so little space to maneuver, especially if I have to type very much.

Yes, we all have very convenient “devices” nowadays. But sometimes the convenience has a devil on its shoulder that often tempts you to perhaps get distracted from what’s really important in life. Some of my favorite and most cherished memories do not involve devices being present. Even if my handy iPhone is present, it is either tucked away or only brought out to document those memories with a few pictures.

I know I’m not alone in feeling like kids become more impatient when they “play” on iPads versus playing with real toys or doing real activity books. They sort of lose a sense of reality and expect everything to happen immediately whether or not it is actually possible. Not to mention, they become less apt to use their imagination, problem solve unstructured issues or challenge themselves physically with outdoor play. Call me “old school,” but sometimes they best parenting is to make kids learn to entertain themselves (for a short while, at least). Give them the tools and guidelines, and set them free.

We’re entering summer time, and our family is enjoying every bit of it. Mommy is especially enjoying the kids helping out with chores—watering flower pots, feeding the dog and cats and helping hang shirts in the laundry now and then. It might not be everyday, but any help around the house is nice when our summer schedule gets busy. When they learn to help someone other than themselves, they learn to manage other things on their own. And, in turn, I hear “mommy, mommy, mommy” maybe a hundred times less a day. 😉

As I was saying, I get a little nostalgic for the year of 1990 when “Home Alone” was released . . . The scene of the treehouse is my favorite. I grew up having a treehouse and spent a good chunk of my childhood there. Whether we read books on a rainy day, roasted marshmallows over candles or had sleepovers in the treehouse, those memories are unbeatable.

I wanted my kids to be able to have those kind of childhood memories. So when I was pregnant with my son and my daughter was only two years old, we built a treehouse in our backyard. Let me rephrase that—my husband built it. I mainly just helped with drawing out the plans and helping hold pieces of wood in place while he measured, cut and screwed all the pieces together to make one spectacular treehouse. We called it the treehouse mansion for a while. I mean, come on  . . . it has a swing set, bridge, bottom deck and quick getaway slide attached. A trap door was in the plans at one point, but we backed out on that idea—maybe someday. It has a few more features than my old treehouse did, but I feel our efforts were totally worth it because we all have had so many good memories in it already and it’s only been four years since it was built.

The kids and I had a sleepover in the treehouse the other night. Sleepover necessities included: favorite stuffed animals, sleeping bags, pillows, flashlights, water, snacks and reading material (Star Wars). They did not fall asleep until after 10 p.m. even though they are normally sound asleep by 8:30 or 9 p.m. in their bedroom—even with our new super flexible summer schedule. I’ve found that treehouses most definitely deter sleep. Furthermore, we have two male cats that . . . well, let’s just say, they need to be neutered. Between the late bedtime for my kiddos and the obscene racket outside the vicinity of treehouse, I could not even fall asleep and reap the benefits of an early bedtime. Ohhh to be a parent who treasures sleep so much but gets so little. Regardless of the lack of sleep, I still enjoy sleepovers in the treehouse with my kids. And besides, I know that someday, they won’t need or want me to partake in the sleepovers as they get older and have their own sleepovers with friends (deep sigh with tears streaming).

(Okay, I’ll pull myself together!)

I will let you in on our little DIY treehouse project with a few photos. I’d give you specific plans, but to be honest, we kind of flew by the seat of our pants as we kept altering/expanding our plans as we added more features. However, Ana White did inspire some of the building components for the main frame of the treehouse structure to get us started.

The full size of the treehouse’s top deck (including the balcony) is 10 feet x 8 feet. The treehouse space alone is 6 feet x 8 feet.

I searched for small windows in all the major home improvement stores, but finally found the windows on Amazon. They are 12 x 18 inches and have safety/tempered glass with open and close features with screens. They are wonderful for keeping out bugs (and rain) during sleepovers.

The steering wheel, periscope and fire hose (that can be connected to a hose for the use of the water slide attachment) on the balcony along with the slide and swings are Playstar brand (found at Menards). The water slide is the kids’ favorite summertime activity (and maybe ours, too)!

We have retaining wall surrounding about half of our house. A drop off isn’t exactly a safe feature in a backyard with kids running around. We embraced this rather problematic feature by attaching a bridge to the edge of the retaining wall’s edge and connected it to the treehouse to create an easier flow of traffic from the upper part of our backyard to the lower part near the downstairs entrance. The bridge solved the kids’  problem. When we were nearly done building and adding on to the treehouse, my dad could foresee that adults wouldn’t be as willing to climb down the treehouse ladder or to use its slide to get to the lower part of our backyard. So he built a set of stairs to connect to the upper part of the retaining wall for the “old folks” to get to and from the upper and lower part of our backyard. Needless to say, his hard work paid off for even us young 30-somethings.

For interior paint (which is only painted halfway up the wall—I should’ve finished painting all of it), I used Kilz primer to prevent any moisture in the treehouse from creating mold. The treehouse’s exterior is painted in a storm/hail-proof paint (Valspar). The rest of the wood was painted with “Rescue It” deck paint made by the brand Olympic (cedar/burnt orange color). The Olympic paint worked well in making a sliver-proof texture for all surfaces that are inevitably touched with bare feet and fingers. My only complaint is that the paint on highly trafficked areas (the stairs and bridge) flaked off quite a bit. But we do live in Nebraska with a variety of elements and have a dog who also trip traps across those areas. Maintenance never ends here in the midwest. Once you think you’re done with house projects, a new one is in store. But I must say that this is the best “house project” we’ve ever done—it makes for quite the outdoor experience for both kids and adults alike!

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Balcony
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Top of balcony. Notice that we didn’t put an exterior lock on this entrance of the treehouse but did on the bridge side of the house. That way, no ornery child is able to lock his/her sibling inside the treehouse with no escape! 😉
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Bottom deck
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Bridge attached from retaining wall to treehouse
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Connecting piece that secures the middle sections of the bridge. I might have to ask my husband what this is even called. (I’ll get back to you)
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Stairs and bridge entrance to treehouse and upper backyard
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See the green thing hanging by the door? We use “WHY traps” in early spring every year to keep wasps from infesting the treehouse, and they work very well without having to use a bunch of spray that doesn’t prevent them creating nests there.
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Furnished with a flip out child-sized couch perfect for sleepovers
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We put up old cupboard faces to keep the kids’ play kitchen stuff tucked away when not in use.
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I spray painted one side of the cupboard face yellow, but painted the other inside with chalkboard paint.
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A fold down table (still not quite completed—missing a board on the right) that is secured with a chain lock.
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A perfect table for my vintage 80’s stove top and microwave
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Fire hose connects to regular hose for water slide
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(“Jaws” theme music) Nothing makes them giggle and scream more than Mommy sneaking up the slide before scaring the pants off her children.
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Cheers to many tea parties at this treehouse—both real and pretend!

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