Wednesday, September 19, 2012

DIY - Building a Loft Bed with Stairs - A DIY Family Project

 This post contains affiliate links
As we prepared for our adoption through the foster care system, we decided to arrange the rooms for as many possible sibling group combinations we could accommodate. Mr. Steady and I thought a loft bed would best suit our second bedroom and still allow play room (or an extra bed) below it.  Mr. Steady immediately went to (an AWESOME blog by a DIY mom in Alaska who designs FREE building plans for everything from beds to greenhouses).  He printed the plans for a loft bed with a staircase (instead of the traditional- and iffy - ladder rungs). With about $70 worth of lumber and screws, we built it in two days!!!  
One invaluable tool we had in our arsenal that really helped the process along was the Kreg Jig. 
Mr. Steady predrilled all the pocket holes before assembly and we were able to put the whole thing together like an Erector set! And the hardware is tucked away neatly for a better aesthetic.

Ana's plans are very clear and well organized.  We have built 3 other projects from her plans and they all were so simple (and fun!) to build.  She gives shopping lists, cut lists, and clear instructions.   Go to CAMP LOFT BED WITH STAIRS for the full building plans on this project. 
These are the dimensions of the finished product, according to her plans.  We adjusted the design a little to suit the room we were placing it in.  We decided to move the staircase to the right side of the bed, so it can be moved up against the wall. We also shortened the platform, so the stairs don't stick out so far.

Ta-da!! That's me and Tess on top!! Mr. Steady even got up there to test the weight limit. It is very sturdy!!  He added 4 corner brackets (the little triangles) for added strength too.  It is a "junior height" loft bed, so it's not eye level with the ceiling fan, but there is still a 47" clearance underneath for a desk, or a bed (we have the box spring on a frame in the photos, but no mattress yet), or a fort/play area.
  The staircase sits right up against the wall and is only 18" wide....perfect for little feet.
Tess (wearing ear protection while Daddy used the saw) loves working on family projects with Mama and Daddy and helps out as much as possible. When the work gets too tough (or noisy) she gathers all the extra pieces and builds her own creations.  So fun!
 A few notes:
I am not receiving anything from the Kreg Jig company for this review. I HONESTLY just love how it made the process so much smoother and I want you to know it!
However, Rehoboth Farm is part of the Amazon Affiliate program. So, our family business will receive a small commission if you choose to purchase this product through one of the links on this page. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Adoption Update: A Week of Worry and Wonders 9.14.2012

Everyone warns about the waiting...they ask about the waiting,  they try to comfort and encourage us as we wait...but, really the waiting hasn't been a burden for us at all.  The true hardship has been the wondering. Wondering what is taking so long, wondering where our children are now, wondering if they are hurting, wondering how long it will be before we can meet them, wondering who God has for us...And the danger with wondering is, it often leads to worry.

Sunday: Months of stories, testimonies, and warnings about "those foster kids" caught up to me. I was overwhelmed, discouraged, and unsure about the will of God. Some (not just feels like most) of the profiles on these kids are terrifying....."tendency to set fires"...."not safe around small pets"..."is learning personal boundaries"...."aggressive toward authority"..... I panicked about the possibilities (worst case scenario) and was sure all foster kids were undisciplined terrorists. Why would God get us this far and leave us on this scary road alone?? Are we really supposed to be adopting???  My husband calmly reassured me and went to bed.
In Joshua 1:5 God's promises, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." I just kept clinging to that promise.  We didn’t have a caseworker yet, and the whole process seemed so bleak, but at least I knew God would not forsake or fail us. 
But, still I needed reassurance. I needed peace and I asked God to show me that this will all be worth it...that we really can be a blessing to someone (or multiple someones) and we're not risking our safety or sanity. I asked Him to show me that there are kids out there that he has divinely appointed for our family.
I pulled up a search on our state’s database and came across a new sibling group. The opening description on their profile reads: “Here are some children who truly love God. They are looking for a Christian family who is involved in church…”   My hands started shaking as I read through their profile and completely fell in love with them.  God poured hope back into every part of me. There was light where there had been darkness.  I woke my husband up at midnight and poured my heart out.  We snuck in the second bedroom (careful not to wake our daughter) to measure the square footage and determined that we could fit another bed in there (we had only planned for 2 boys and girl…but this sibling group was 2 girls and a boy, so we were trying to make it work).  We made plans to build a loft bed and rearrange everything. We talked about how their profiles seemed to be written specifically for our family.  We tried not to get too excited.  We prayed that God’s will be done and we went to sleep.

Monday: Still without a caseworker and clueless to how the actual process worked, we submitted an inquiry online and naively believed that we matched so well with those kids, they couldn’t help but place them with us.  I went off to the church to do some painting and couldn’t help telling everyone I saw about “our kids” and the hope God had restored.  As I went through the day I envisioned “our kids” with us and how they would enjoy this thing or that. I thought about school arrangement, age gaps, sibling bonding and other anticipated transitions like they were already on their way.  But, the Bible says “imaginations are vain” and this is why:

Tuesday: We heard back from the children’s case coordinator: “Your caseworker needs to submit an inquiry on your behalf.  However, we are no longer accepting inquiries for these children due to the number of case studies already received.”  That was heartbreaking.   I was ashamed that I had allowed myself to get so emotionally invested in an unknown.   I wept and asked the Lord to forgive my arrogant assumptions and conditional faith.  I officially submitted to His will… in His time….and let go of my vain imaginations about “our kids.”   The department head we are in contact with said they close submission when they get around 50 inquiries ( from all over Texas).  We are hopeful there are that many Christian families in the system with honorable intentions, but it’s not something we have seen locally.
Wednesday:  I worked on a painting for a friend that included the scripture: “Except the Lord buildeth the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1) and I thought, We are laboring in vain. We need to le the Lord build this house (family).  My husband reminded me that God’s bigger than CPS and bigger than disappointment and He is not done working here.  We tried to regain focus decided to go ahead and build the bed, figuring God must have had a purpose behind prompting us to remeasure the bedrooms at 2am to discover we had room for one more child (and multiple gender combinations we didn’t think we could manage).  Maybe God needs us to be ready for 4 kids instead of 3? Or maybe He just needs us to be flexible? We praised God for his faithfulness and prayed for a caseworker.
Thursday:  We received an email from the department head notifying us that we have been assigned to a caseworker.….(almost 9 months after we began this process). AMEN.  He gave us her name and her supervisor’s name.  He also apologized for the delay (there are vacancies in the department and they are scrambling to reassign everyone) and said we should hear from her soon.

Friday:  I updated everyone in Bible study about this week’s events and braced myself for the wonders God will work in the weeks ahead.

*Art by: GratitudeJewelry (click photo for shop info)


Monday, September 3, 2012

DIY Sandbox with Cover - A Family Project

 This post contains affiliate links.

Just after my 2nd birthday, Mommy made this awesome sandbox (a roasting pan full of sand) for me. I thought it was great, but Daddy thought it needed an upgrade, so......
We picked a corner of the yard that already had a shade structure in place and leveled out the ground (don't mind our dead grass...2011 drought)
Daddy talked Mama in to "going big or going home" -which I'm so grateful for. The resulting 6ftx6ft sandbox is sturdy enough to last a lifetime and big enough to hold the big kids (mom and dad). We used 2x8x6s for the 4 side walls.
Daddy predrilled all the hole for assembly with lagbolts and 4x4's in each corner. I put all the washers on the bolts for Daddy.

This is what it looked like as a dry-fit. But, Daddy took it all apart again so we could paint each piece separately.  ( I was measuring it just to see if it was the way, it measured: "26 3-quarter inch half big" - in case you were curious)
We used Thompson's Water Seal Deck & House Waterproofing Stain.  We thought this stuff was pretty awesome!  Mommy said it went on smoother than a stain and protects everything from water damage (and she was right - the sandbox has survived 4 seasons of Texas storms and still looks beautiful!).

Many hands make light work, so I grabbed a roller and started painting.
After the paint dried, we reassembled the whole thing and flipped it upside down.  Mommy and I used black weedblock fabric (almost a whole roll) and stapled it to the edges with a staple gun.  We did an overlapping layer going one direction, than a second layer going the other direction...then one more going the orginal direction. Take that, weeds!!!

After weed-proofing the bottom, we flipped it back over to add 1x3" trim around the outside edge (a comfy place to sit while putting your feet in the sand).  We used a Daddy's router on all the edges for bullnosed smooth overhangs and mitered the four corners (Mommy did that - I covered my ears).

Then we realized we forgot to paint the trim pieces before we attached them. No worries....a coat of paint and we moved on.

 Daddy brought home 1,000 lbs of play sand (available at Lowe's for about $2.50/50lb bag) to fill the sandbox. I helped pull it across the yard.

After dumping 20 bags, the sandbox was about 6 inches deep. We decided that was enough for now.

A lot more room to play than roasting pan, huh?
With lots of room for friends!
Update from Mommy:
   I sewed a sandbox cover out of left over awning fabric (to keep the cats out). It was an experiment in math for me trying to get a good fit as the fabric had no give to it.  I later thought of a few improvements to the design that could have worked out:

1. I could have taken a vinyl table cloth and just added elastic sheet straps to the corners to keep it in place.

 2. Building the sandbox as a rectangle rather than a square - we could have used a fitted sheet to cover it- the elastic corners would fit snuggly over the trim and stay in place even in high wind.

 3. Cutting the center out of the fabric cover and sewing a mesh (tulle) insert to allow for drainage and sunlight (so water doesn't collect and grow algea). We DID do this after a few weeks of rain collection.
We also added mulch and pavers around the sandbox to keep the grass from growing right up against it. The sand that is kicked out during play mingles with the mulch nicely and never looks messy. 
It is always a blessing to our family to be able to work on a project together.  We continue to enjoy this one season after season.  I hope you are inspired to start a family project - don't forget to include the kids -even 2 year olds!