Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 box maze

The box maze this year was huge, so I thought it was appropriate to make a huge blog post about it. Terry was extremely proud of his work this year. Last year was his first attempt and it turned out great, but the maze this year was bigger and better. He climbed up on a ladder on the stage to get this shot.

This photo was taken on the west side of the maze. The tall portion in the middle was a dead end, and was called "the swirl" due to the boxes that wrapped around it.

Here is the ramp that Terry constructed. "Tamarra" was the code name given to the secret exit which was housed within the ramp, unbeknownst to the students.

The box maze was a church event on Wednesday evening. First the Sparkies went through. There's little Evie just inside one of the two entrances.

Next up were the Truth and Training Awana kids, including Noah. He had a great time, though I was surprised he did not find his way out. 

Since my brother and his wife are back in town, Nathan is helping out with youth group. And scaring kids... 

Terry had some great help this year. One of his most faithful was this college student with the coolest name: Zebedee. He and his friend Matt worked on including this lounge-like area in the middle of the maze. Complete with chairs. 

Here's some high school students crammed in there. 

Another of Terry's most loyal helpers was David. David is awesome. Here they are. Proud as can be in front of their ramp and "Tamarra."

Now David is inside the top of the ramp pointing out the secret exit, Tamarra.

Oh yes. That cardboard has a flap of that lifts up to reveal the secret. They put the opening to the back of the flap to make it even more difficult to find. 


On Thursday night there was an elder appreciation dinner at the church. Paul, our new staff guy (Director of Connections) was brave enough to try the maze. Terry of course had to show him Tamarra.

Absolutely ZERO students found Tamarra. On the last night of the maze (Terry was there every night Sunday through Friday and students went through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday), Terry was planning on finally revealing Tamarra. They played the game Sardines. The one girl, Jazmin, who had overheard where the exit was from some college students, got to hide in Tamarra. When other students would climb over her (because she was below the top-most portion of the ramp), she would knock to let them know where to go so they could hide with her. Terry was standing on the ramp frame with a camera giving further clues. At this point, Bailey and Mary (pictured) were like, "We know the way out is under us, but how do we get there?" Terry said, "What's the fastest possible way?" "Under us," they answered. "But how aren't we falling through?" They figured it out in the end. They all did, but only because Terry gave them tons of hints. There was a dead end that went under the side portion of the ramp, next to Tamarra, that the kids were just sure led to the exit. They were so desperate to find it that they were roughing it up and shaking the maze!
Bailey and Mary sitting, unknowingly, on top of Tamarra.

A few students finding their way out. Finally.

The maze is fun but it's quite a long week. It was so sweet of these two freshman girls, Jazmin and Sarah, to babysit our kids when it was all over so Terry and I could have a much needed date.

Fun-faced boy. And his friend Asher behind him.

This was Friday night when it was all over.

The next thing they did was rip it all apart. The video is quite funny. There are kids jumping and flying through the air, obviously sure of a soft landing, but the boxes completely crumples under them and they disappear from view. It was hilarious.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

chainsaw work

Days and weeks after the big blizzard brought the sound of chainsaws to our ears, including from our own yard. Terry had to cut down this tree in the back corner of our yard due to the weight of the snow causing it to split. We are so thankful our big, beautiful shady pine trees didn't succumb!

I also convinced Terry to cut down the over-grown bush in front of our deck which obstructed our window. It had also cracked due to the weight of the snow. Terry said he liked to hide behind it but I thought it was ugly. It had grown up to the gutters!

Let the cutting begin!

I counted about 25 rings in the stump. That was one old bush. I like it better this way. Next year perhaps we'll add some other things. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

school table!

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this school year, once our dungeon project was done, we would be moving the school room to the other side of that room and making a bedroom in the old school room. Since the dungeon is done (Hallelujah!) and the bedroom is half done, I was eager to have a better school table than this old padded card table. It worked just fine for Noah and I but adding Evie in the mix this year has been difficult. It's wobbly and crowded. 

When I researched tables I was pretty much appalled at prices. It's ludicrous. On facebook a while back a friend's boyfriend had made them a table from some Ana White internet plans. That woman's site is amazing and totally inspiring. So when I realized how much I didn't want to spend on a table, I talked my brother into "helping" me make one. Terry has enough going on right? I mean, can I get an AMEN?! Yeah. So Nathan and I (and Ana!) went to Menards and spent like $92 on supplies and got to work a couple weekends later.

This was the plan we modified.

I did help a very little bit. Having absolutely no experience with power tools, I was scared. But Nathan helped me cut some boards and screw all the holes with the kreg-jig thingy - which I learned is for hiding screws, making them go in sideways. Then he screwed the table top boards together with the help of his clamps. We also used wood glue.

About a week later Nathan came back over to finish up the table. I wasn't as involved at this point. He made the cuts to the legs and apron and nailed them together. He added those corner supports in too.

Ana was there looking cute with my cute baby.

Nathan had to change out some of the screws that were too long and came through the table top. He put smaller ones in with some wood glue to repair the damage. You can't even find where these spots were now that it's done.

Then he slammed the top on and was done! Now it was my turn to finish it...

Here's the under side. Hahaha.

I spent an afternoon's quiet time sanding down the raises edges of where the table top boards met. I needed it smooth for writing. Once that I was done it was time to stain! I didn't want to spend any money on finishing the table, so I used what I had. First I put down a coat of leftover dungeon white trim stain.

Then I put on some mahogany gel stain I used for our dining room table and chairs six years ago.

And I didn't like it. So I tried putting more on and that looked terrible. So I sanded it all down as much as I could and put more mahogany on. It looked a lot better. Turned out I had put too much white down initially. Then I put six coats of polyurethane on since we're a six pack. And pine is soft wood. 

And voila! Today was our first day on the new table! It's wonderful! Just need a couple benches... Eventually. 

dungeon - part 12, window well

By way of reminder, here's how our window project started: 

Back in March, when we had been working on the dungeon for about a month, we were told that for our project to be to code, there had to be a window. Back the truck up! Terry started digging under our front porch right away. Here's the initial pit.

About a month later, we got the window installed. That was great and all (seriously was), but since we had decided not to do an ugly metal window well, we were stuck with a view of red dirt and foundation pieces for the time being. 

We wanted to let in more light into our dungeon. It needed it! And besides, there's no way our kids could climb out of a deep window well if there was an emergency. So Terry's idea was to make steps.  These were his initial tiers he started a few weeks ago.

And this is it now! BAM! My husband did great. Perhaps now our dungeon project really is done :)
Notice his beastly Blazer in the reflection? Yeah, he did that on purpose.

The view is much improved.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mount Rushmore cones

The dumbest part of the government shutdown:

These are coned off public viewing areas of Mount Rushmore. I was so bored of being at home after the blizzard that I took all four kids on a drive up there to see for myself. It was true. They had public areas coned off. 

Atlas day 3

Day 3 of the storm meant that it was done and our power was on for good. The sky was clear, the sun was warm and the snow was melting like crazy. We were even able to get out of our driveway - I went and got Culvers for dinner. That morning Terry went to work making the kids a snow fort off the back deck.

He made them a couple little benches and they watched him dig out tunnels.

He's under the snow!

It was strange how all the grass was green and the leaves were still on the trees, having barely even begun to change color.

Snow fort. Samuel was a grump. Noah and Evie had a great time.

Next they all moved out front where there was another huge 5 foot drift from digging out the cars. They made it into a sort of slide hill with their butts. Later they went and got the sleds to slide down into the freely flowing gutter. They were soaked!

Even grumpy Samuel started to enjoy himself.

Noah begins sliding...

...and ends. Ker-plunk.


Daddy puts his feet up on the snow for a well earned break. Notice the trampoline weighed down to the ground with the weight of the snow.

Then he was back at it again. It was surprising they could even swing at all since the snow was so high. And notice the broken tree next to them. It had to be cut down! Terry was out there during the storm when it snapped and said it was quite loud.