Deck building

So often I think about posting but life is so busy that I just don’t get around to it!! This is the busiest time of year for me, and this year is busier than usual with our newest arrival taking up time and attention.  :)

Today was my official due date – it’s so nice that the baby has been a member of the family almost three weeks already, instead of waiting and wondering when he would be born.   Since I didn’t have to spend energy on wondering and waiting, I was able to move on to something else that I had been thinking about for quite a while. :)))

I’ve been wanting to build a deck for the past year, and had planned it for a summer project with my kids.  I thought it would be especially nice since we would have a sturdy surface to put up the new easily assembled kind of blow up pool and the kids could enjoy water play in the hot weather.  But when the oldest two kids suddenly ended up going to sleep away camp for a month, I shelved the plans for this year – it seemed like too much to take on in the eighth month of pregnancy, in the heat of the summer, without two of the most capable workers. 

My husband has been against this idea since I first brought it up, and didn’t get more receptive to it as time went on.  :)  He felt that I have so much to do that he didn’t want to see me take on another big project.  I explained to him a couple of months ago that I like having something to do, but he was happy when I realized that the deck was too big a project for me at that time and stopped thinking about it.

What does this have to do with anything right now?  Well, yesterday afternoon I had this sudden idea that we could build the deck (freestanding platform style) before my husband came home today at 4 pm.  I knew he would be happy to have it done, and if he didn’t know we were doing it, he wouldn’t worry that I was doing too much so soon after birth.  I discussed the possibility with the kids, who were very enthusiastic, but told them my concerns about the very tight time frame we would be working under.  When I first thought about building it, I planned to allot a week to get it done – and now I was giving us a day!  I talked to them about what would have to be done in what order, and the importance of being focused on our tasks.  They realized that I wouldn’t be able to physically help them with the building (it being so soon after birth), and the actual work would all be up to them – I would just direct them.  Since I had read books about deck building several months ago, I knew what we needed to do and we didn’t need to spend much time thinking about it or researching – we just had to work out the size and layout we wanted.

The kids really wanted to do it so that we could use it for Sukkos (last year we were on the dirt and when it rained, it became mud; not so pleasant) and eagerly agreed to take on the challenge, and boy, they are an amazing team!  It was very sweet to see all six of them (oldest ds wasn’t home at first) all working together – hammering, unscrewing, etc- even my 17 month old was in on the action – he found a large bolt and used it as a hammer to bang on the wood alongside his older siblings.  When ds14 got home, he jumped right in to help.

We decided on a deck that would be 16.5 feet by almost 13 feet, eight inches off of the ground.  (Because it is freestanding, we didn’t have to worry about digging foundations or applying for permits, both potentially a big concern.)  Since we were using lumber for the frame that we collected a few months ago from a deck someone was dismantling, it took significantly more time to assemble than it would have if we had just purchased exactly the lumber we needed from the store.  But the boards were already in the yard, and it was a good feeling to finally put them to use. 

We didn’t actually manage to finish everything before my husband got home, but we did have the entire frame finished by then, and I came home from the lumber yard with the final load of wood to cover the frame with right after dh got home.  He literally was speechless – he couldn’t believe that we thought of the idea and gotten so much done in the day that he was gone.  The kids at first couldn’t tell how he felt about it, because he just kept saying how shocked he was – so finally ds8 asked if he was happy about it.  And dh told him he just couldn’t believe it, that he thought it was amazing.

Tomorrow morning the kids plan to finish attaching the surface boards – most of them are down, but all of them aren’t yet screwed into place.  Since I have alot of other things I need to do tomorrow (being erev Sukkos), they decided they want to wake up early so they can finish it by 11 am or so before they need to get to their other tasks.  It has been exciting for them to watch the deck take form and know that they have really made this crazy idea happen in time to use for our sukka this year. 

I strongly believe in giving kids opportunities to stretch themselves.  As parents, we can’t give our children confidence or self esteem, but we can give them experiences that have the potential to build an inner confidence.  When kids successfully accomplish something that feels significant to them,  they feel more confident and that confidence will carry over into many other areas of life.


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