The Rainbow Project

In the middle of July, a neighbor posted their Rainbow swing set for sale. It wasn’t in the greatest condition, but it had potential. Luckily for me I have [some] skills and, more importantly, some great in-laws with SKILLZ.

DAY 1: Friday

This is the starting point. Best I could tell its between 5-8years old, had never been stained, and was currently sitting several inches below an overwatered squishy lawn. The base timbers on the main platform were beyond hope, but from what I could see and inspect the rest of the wood and parts were in good condition. It just needed a lot of love. While Rachel watched the kids for me, disassembly and transport started.

This is the one piece I had to put on my back and walk back to my house. It was only a couple of blocks but i drew some confused looks from some nearby roofers. Every other part I managed to fit in the back of the van and make several trips back and forth.

Remember when I said everything looked to be in good condition? Yeah that didn’t last. “Dammit” moment 1. While dissembling I discovered a small any colony had moved into the deck. I’d have to figure this out…

The current owners seemed to be very wary about me moving the swing, by myself, without destroying their lawn. I think I managed that beyond their expectations.

After about 3 hours of manual labor all of the part resided in our front lawn.

The remainder of day 1 was spend power washing each piece until to could see wood again instead of a layer of moss and lichen. The cleaned swing set enjoyed bathing in the sun to dry. (note my second “Dammit” moment of breaking the steering wheel in the top right picture)


This is what I called my “Dammit All” pile. Its all the wood that, on first pass I deemed lost causes.

I spent the morning at Menards navigating the lumberyard for replacements. The only piece they didn’t have in stock was a 10 foot 4×6 to replace the one the ants had munch on. The rest would replace the entire deck, base timbers, and a couple 2×4 that attached to the deck.

Enter Troy Roering. While our amazing wives wrangled all the children at the pool Troy and I sanded. And sanded. And sanded. After 9 hours every square inch of wood had lost a few millimeters of surface and the wood revealed its beautiful cedar color.

Being short one 4×6 timber Troy took on the project of salvaging one of the “Dammit All” boards. He cut out all of the ant colony, sanded, glued, and patched the space with a new cedar 2×4.


It was staining day! The Roerings returned and Mike and Michele joined them! Troy and I stained throughout the day while Mike used his expertise to rebuild the deck and salvaged even more of the “Dammit All” pile to rebuild the base under the slide. Finally, at the end of the day We began reassembling the not-quite-dried-but-still-finished pieces.

Everything is finally back together and looking good.

Day 4

Detail time. First up, Amazon delivered a replacement to my destroyed wheel. The kids helped to install. Michaela was quite worried that it would rain and insisted on bring an umbrella.

The rope ladder was in very tough condition and quite uneven. After struggling and failing to untie the knots Andrea pointed out that rope is cheap and I could just replace it. FOREHEAD SLAP. A trip to Home Depot turned into workshop hosted by me to the employees on the methodology of heat cutting and sealing rope. Once home, the old rope was sliced and diced and the new rope restrung.

Michaela was a huge help in reassembling the climbing wall. She designed and placed all of the stone to ‘ensure a safe yet feasible climb’.

The last thing was the tired swing. Overall great condition, it just left black streaks on everything it touched. I had a nightmare about the laundry it would create. A quick google and the solution was easy. Powerwash, scrub with dish soap, dry overnight, then spray paint black. The result was a glossy stain-free tire.

Finally, after days of watching the swing come together and being told not to touch it the kids were allowed to play!

A huge thank-you to the Roerings, Mike, Michele and Rachel.  Without their time, skill, ingenuity, and willingness to help I’d still a pile of wood parts in my front yard. Thanks for the help, thanks for watching the kids, and making sure that everyone stayed hydrated and got something to eat.

On a cold evening at the end of the year known as 2016 after months of planning, there was a rare gathering of the “College Friends.” It’s a massive gathering that gets bigger with each occurrence. It began with with four college girls and slowly included boyfriends turned husbands and many, many children.

It was a great evening of food, games, child video surveillance, demonstrations of high school dance moves, 90’s hiphop, nerf wars, Star Wars, and general tom-foolery.

Just a few of the children including a great picture of all the boys and great poses by some of the girls.

The one couple shot I got from the evening. Ain’t they cute?

The girls celebrated with colored hair.

Kids’ night finished with a movie and popcorn in the basement. They settled down enough for this picture, then scattered to the far reaches of the basement.

Thanks to Netflix the children celebrated New Year’s at a respectable 10pm. Dancing ensued.

A toast with some fancy sparkling apple juice to welcome the New Year….

…then the real fun started.

We sorta missed the the ball drop but did have a toast at 12:03!

The next morning I made BACON!

Its been a whirlwind of Holiday excitement over the last month. Three extended family parties followed with Andrea working over Christmas resulted in a lot of fun and tired kids.

We had my family down during our Community’s Santa Event.  Letters were mailed, Santa was negotiated with, sleighs were ridden, and faces were painted.

Meeting Santa, Dom was not impressed

REINDEER! Both of the kids were super excited to go for a sleigh ride.

Face painting is a favorite activity for Kayla

Dom is ticklish on his cheeks

Andrea had a week off and we cleaned, decorated, prepped, the house and family for the holidays.  We traveled to Macy’s in downtown to amazing 8th Floor holiday display.

singing Christmas trees

Although a little intimidated by the crowd, Dom loved the displays of elves.

The kids really wanted to climb into the displays. This is as far as I let them get

We had to give Santa an update since the last time we saw him

The very next weekend we had the other side of the family down for more food and festivities.

First Time cooking Prime Rib.

The one picture we managed to capture without the kids being total blurs

After weeks of preparing the Christmas Eve had arrived. Andrea worked throughout the weekend, but managed to be home in the evenings and, thanks to a great coworker, was able to spend Christmas morning with us.

Michaela double checked to make sure that everything was in order for Santa

The kids right before bed on Christmas eve. As you can see they weren’t excited at all.

Santa was in and out but left behind a wonderful display

The stocking were stuff as well.

It’s the first time that Dom enjoyed the presents more than the wrapping paper.

Jammin’ to Trolls

An entire city for superheroes

The morning was fun and filled with playing and it didn’t end just because it was nap time

My wife wins the holiday with a set of Trilogy movie posters.

I may have misunderstood the level of puffiness requested in lounge pants


Over the weekend there was significant snow fall here in Woodbury and the Olson crew took advantage. While I shoveled off the driveway and deck, Andrea and the kids took to the yard for a morning of sledding, snow angels, and snowball fights.

The snow didn’t last much longer than a day, but its Minnesota I expect a lot more any minute.


Rosey Cheeks

A pro at making angels

Working on it

The beginnings of the Olson Luge course

The year is ending and there is a multitude of food to eat.  Due to work schedules we kept Thanksgiving local this year.  I flexed my culinary muscle and warmed up ham, which ended up completely non-photogenic.  Also on the menu, and much more photogenic, sliced up baked potatoes, stuffing, and apple pie.

We invited over the local in-laws to enjoy the food,football games and parade.  After dinner, the children enjoyed a dance party and retired to the basement for a nice quiet evening movie. The adults enjoyed a civil game of Cards against Humanity, the official game of family get-togethers everywhere.






Check out my beautiful buns.


Not everything turned out perfectly…

I made PIE!

I made PIE!

Dom in perfect holiday form. Wearing sweatpants seeing what we have to eat.

Dom in perfect holiday form. Wearing sweatpants seeing what we have to eat.


First, I’m thankful for this woman.  She is the most amazing mother, hardest worker, and best friend that I could ask for.  Everything that I do on a daily basis is because of her.


If Andrea is number 1, these two come in at number 1 and number 1. I couldn’t ask for better kids. They’ve accomplished so much this year.  Dominic is potty trained, talking up a storm, and climbing anything he can reach. Michaela underwent a surgery to untether her spinal cord. Not only did she handle the hospital stay like a champ, but her at-home-recovery consisted completely of making her sit still rather than trying to get her out of bed. These two are going to be such an adventure.

A few other things that I’m thankful for:

Friends. I’m lucky enough to have my good friends from high school, college, and various work places. Whether its hanging out, going to a movie, needing an emergency baby sitter, or needing to get Vimec out of another mess that he’s gotten himself into, its great to have friends to call on.

Our house. After a long search last year we found an amazing house in an amazing neighborhood, with amazing neighbors, amazing parks, and a pool/splash pad within walking distance.

On a purely technical point, I’m thankful for the blogs new domain. (Even though transferring was a vicious pain). If you’re reading this you’re already in the right place. Here’s to three less letters!