Sunday, March 30, 2008

this might be the death of us

It seemed like a good idea ... buying a huge swing set that we could put in our back yard to keep the children happily entertained for those times when we cannot dart out to the park. And yet, if we don't dart out to the park, the kids are prepared to chew limbs off of each other.

I've been thinking about this type of purchase for a while now. And then, while I was shopping last week at Costco, I spotted "the" one I wanted.

And everyday since then, I've been thinking about it.

Dreaming about it.

Fantasizing that if I had it, my whole life would be transformed. I wouldn't have to be out of the house every waking moment of the day. Sure, we'd still go to the park and go do fun things every day, but my sanity and survival would no longer depend upon it.

So today, after convincing Charlie that the $1,500.00 for this play structure is money well spent - especially when a similar play structure from Rainbow runs around $3,000.00 - we loaded up the van and with Charlie following in the truck, drove to Costco.

Costco, Costco ...
O how we love thee!! So much to buy, so much to see!! Food, cars, clothes and baked goods galore! It's great to get everything in one store!! Just about any earthly supply, whatever it may be!! Now all we need is a money tree!!

We drove home, unloaded the six boxes and slide and then we looked in the boxes and only saw lumber. And screws. And something that might look like a trapeze in 50 pieces.

While the kids took a nap, Charlie and I sat down and watched the TWO hour instructional video while thumbing through the 74 PAGE instruction manual.

I don't think that my masters thesis was 74 pages long.

Then we measured our back yard and were not sure why we thought our back yard was 60 feet wide, when it's only 35. We should know this, considering we did all of the landscaping ourselves and laid every last inch of sprinkler line and drainage pipe.

This monstrosity that we purchased is 19 feet across and will take up more than 1/2 of our yard. Once it is constructed, it will be visible to aircraft that fly over our house on approach to the airport. Assuming we ever get it constructed. Nothing, I mean NOTHING, is pre-assembled.

This play set is so "Do It Yourself", they even include the finish that you are supposed to use to treat the wood. We grabbed at our hearts and saw the gates of heaven when we read that the estimated time for completion, for two adults, is approximately 16 hours.

Two adults. Sixteen hours.

Two adults with four children under four who are constantly asking "Where my HOUSE?! WHERE MY HOUSE? YOU BUILD MY HOUSE?!" can probably add a couple hundred hours, frayed nerves and an aneurysm to that estimate.

This is why people pay twice as much for a Rainbow model.

They install it for you.

Since it took Charlie almost three hours to put together a rocking Moose that we bought from LL Bean, because our little "helpers" kept hijacking his tools, I'm holding hope that we'll get this fortress built by Christmas. 2010.

And here I was thinking we'd have it assembled by tonight.


  1. I have a picture of my costco cart equally as full of children!

  2. My parents put the Costco one in at their lakehouse several years ago in his eagerness to help, my brother took all the pieces out of the boxes and layed them out in piles, somehow mixing them all up in the process. It was a mess and added untold hours to the project. It is a family joke now, but it wasn't funny at the time!!! Good luck and post some pics when you are done.


  3. Yikes! Hopefully there will be some elves that visit your house tonight...and magically put together all of the pieces...

  4. HIRE a contractor to put it together. Or better yet call the student employment services at your nearby college and get 2 engineering students to come and help you guys. Then feed them and LEAVE for a few hours.Oh leave more food and sodas

  5. We don't know each other but I read your blog every day and today I laughed OUT LOUD over the swingset mess. My husband built a swingset in the backyard, just like save money from the Rainbow set. After what I think was 16 feet of concrete to anchor the thing I tell the kids that the "fort" is built better than the house so, in case of a tornado, head to the backyard! (Just kidding of course!) Thanks for making me laugh. Kari

  6. well you pretty much just convinced me to drop the 3k on the rainbow one... there's NO way that our marriage would survive this. NO FRIGGIN WAY.

  7. You must return the Costco set and get a Rainbow - it is worth the money - that's why I have one - which the kids still use! Absolutely LOVE Elizabth's comment with the tiny person. She is so sweet - just like her godmother!
    Love you Jen! YOu are doing a fabulous job!

  8. Oh no. Oh no. You know if you returned it and got the Rainbow one, you'd be paying less than $100 an hour for them to assemble it. Seems worth it to me.

  9. Do you want me to send Jerry The Drunk over? All you'd need is some beer and he'd have that baby up in no time.

    This will transform your life. I have no idea how you've survived this long. My kids play ALL DAY on our three swing sets, five slides, and trampoline. Of course we got all our stuff for free. I.m eyeballing our other neighbor's fort now that their grandkids are in junior high. I think my life would be so much better if they had a fort. And a treehouse with e-vap and a TV!

    Good luck! Can't wait to see that beast!

  10. oh wow! that is insane! yeah i can see now why they pay double...that might actually be worth it. we just bought a slide from lowe's that costs us 77$ and I thought that was outlandish for a piece of plastic that we attached to our wooden play fort (it came with the house)...but the kids LOVE LOVE LOVE it and it's becomming worth it. Now if we could only get spring to come and actually stay then that would be really nice! :)
    Good luck getting that all together!

  11. We, too, have the Costco playset. The estimate of time it takes for two adults to assemble it is pretty right on. It took my husband and my dad a few days to have it ready for play. In fact, I think one night I was out there with a light on my head and gloves on my hands, screwing in some parts of it because I just wanted it to be done.

    I wish I could say it has saved my life as an entertainer for my kids. Whenever we're outside, I'll I hear is,

    "Mom? Can you push me?"
    "Mom? Can you help me cross the monkey bars?"
    "Mom? Will you put me up on the bar?"

    Yeah, some days I consider tearing it apart and using it for firewood!

    Although, this summer's Costco model looks even more fun than! Wish one could trade-in and upgrade!

  12. Oh my sweet, sweet Jen, what have you gotten yourself in to?!?! My in-laws just bought Chase one of these from Sams Club for his birthday and after two solid weekends and one all-day Friday, it is finally put together. This was my MILs dream since Chase was born and of course I don't think my FIL will ever be the same, but at least was a labor of love. Good luck, I think the end result will be well worth it (at least the kids will think so).

  13. It just dawned on me why your kids just stand at the door and cry when you lock them out. When I lock mine out, they just run off and play on their stuff! Geez, Jen, I feel like I've let you down. Have Charlie take a few days off work and get that thing up for crying out loud!

  14. Eeks. Shall we hold a candle-light vigil??? Or serve lots of Texas-sized margaritas??? :-)

    Some friends of ours did a pretty enormous can see it here:

    It might even be the same one you bought?

  15. Michele - I KNOW. I've been needing and wanting one of these play sets for a long, long time. But, my mother (who is right 99.999% of the time) told me to not waste our money when we've got a load of parks in the area. Turns out, she was throwing a Tony-ism my way.

    We have more awesome parks than I can count on TWO hands within a five minute drive of our house. But, they don't do me a hill of beans when it's time to cook dinner and I need to be HOME and I've got kids that are beating tomorrow out of each other and pulling on my pant legs.

    Currently, we have a tarp over the beast as it lays, unassembled, in our backyard. Because! Yay! It's supposed to rain tonight!!

    We still might return it to Costco and then, we'd just need to sell a kidney and a fully assembled Rainbow could be OURS!

    Which at the rate we've been going, we might need to turn to the black market, anyway. If we were to hire a contractor >> we'd probably spend a few hundred on assembly. Charlie called his brother, a contractor in Northern California, and asked if he might come down to help. So - there's the cost of a plane ticket added to our bill. And then, Charlie went out and dropped almost $150.00 on tools that he said he needed. For Pete's sake, at this rate, we'll probably wind up spending MORE than what we would have if we did buy a Rainbow.

  16. I like the idea of hiring a couple of college students to assemble it.

    I look forward to reading each chapter of the Evil Playset Series.

  17. I know that Rainbows are really expensive but when we were shopping last year for our playset, we researched a ton on what to buy. The Rainbow is a very nice and sturdy. I could tell the difference right away between the Rainbow and the Sam's Club/Costco brand.
    We ended up getting a used Rainbow for about $1000. It was 7 years old. My kids love it.

    Good Luck,


  18. We bought last year's version of the Costco playground for our girls last winter. It was a major construction project for my husband, his father and his brother -- definitely a labor of love! My husband wishes you good luck. Using my brother-in-law's wonderful tools and air compressor (he is a mechanic), it took them 2 Saturdays to put it together. But... we absolutely love it. There was a board that was cracked and my husband contacted the company. They sent a free replacement part and the return address on the box was Rainbow. I think Rainbow must make this model for Costco. If we lived closer (we live in Virginia), I would send my husband over to help you. He works for beer!

  19. My husband helped his brother this past Christmas put together a simular playset... in fact it could be the same one since it was from Costco as well.  Anyway, it did take them a few days (working on it in few hour chuncks), but it is awesome.  The kids love it... even my little 2 year old.  This Christmas we might have to get the same one for our 2 year old and has my hubbie's brother help us!  Pay back!

  20. Best wishes with the swing set! We're looking at getting one for the backyard at our next house, but after reading your post, I just don't know......

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the encouraging words!

  21. Rember it is the journey and not the destination. Keep a sense of humor and enjoy---it will be great fun.

  22. We want pictures! Lotsa pictures! Step by step pictures! :D

    ~Cindy! :)