Real Housewife of DIY County

The wise man built his house upon the rock, and even the foolish man chose sand, for Pete's sake.  But, the mom who was stuck inside with three little ones for the umpteenth day in a row while temperatures outside soared past 105 decided to build hers on the carpet.  Out of PVC pipe.

Yes, in a moment of desperation, I decided to look online to find free plans for a PVC playhouse, something I'd wanted to build for quite sometime but just hadn't made the time to do.  About the third Google listing down, I really thought I'd hit the jackpot.  And, all in all, it was 85-90% perfect!  However...

The best laid plans of pvc pipes and moms... 

So, here's how it actually went down on this week's edition of "Real Housewives of DIY County."  I don't recommend following the steps exactly as they are laid out below, so feel free to delete, rework, revise and consolidate according to your schedule and level of tolerance for self-inflicted pain.

Step 1:
Search Google for instructions on building a PVC playhouse (easy enough, right?).

Step 2:
Tell the kids that you're going "bye-bye" and it's time to get their shoes on.  Tell them at least two more times.  Threaten time-out or losing dessert.  Stand back and watch the shoes fly on.

Step 3:
Buckle everyone in and make sure you have everything you need, including your sanity.  Ok, so you have to leave without that.  Attempt to back out of the driveway while being inundated with multiple, requests for DVD's and miscellaneous questions regarding your destination.

Step 4:
Arrive at Lowe's or some such home improvement center where they promise on the commercials that if you can do it they can help.  (Note: They invite you to "build something together" but they really don't mean it.  You're on your own.)

Step 5:
Unbuckle everyone, count heads, enforce the holding-hands-across-the-parking-lot rule and fend off multiple suggestions from your children that you need a certain type of child-accommodating cart.  Kick yourself later for not heeding their advice when they are running up and down the aisles, giggling like a herd of wild hyenas running after a lost antelope.

Step 6:
Arrive at the PVC aisle and listen to the angels sing until (((screech))) the salesperson (in this case, salesman) interrupts you to "help" you find what you need because he just knows there is no way a woman is going to find her way through the labyrinth of 1/2", 1/4", elbow, tee-shaped pipes and connectors.

Step 7:
Hurriedly try to find the drawing of the PVC playhouse for the salesman to assure him that you actually do know what you're talking about.  Wait for your phone to download.  Wait for it.  Wait for it.  Wait for it.  RE-assure the salesman that you really do need the things you need in the amount that you requested.

Step 8:
Watch closely as the nice but semi-helpful salesman tosses everything he heard you say into your basket without your approval.  Try to quickly look at each piece and count while looking at a semi-downloaded picture and instructions to make sure you have everything so that you don't have to make this trip ever again.  After all of the connectors are in the cart and while the salesman is cutting a few (not all of the 10' pipes... because he "can't") lengths off for you, ever so subtly move towards the cutters and toss back the one he tossed you for $12 and grab one that's half the price.  After all, you're cutting 1/2" PVC pipe, and the package says "up to 5/8"so it should be good, right?!?!

Step 9:
After you successfully switch out the cutter, come back to where the salesman is half-way done and begins to hand each child a 4' length of 1/2" pipe.  Proclaim that you will take away their fun if anyone does not keep theirs standing vertically.  Explain that your reason is so that no one pokes anyone or the salesman in the eye.  Explain the definition of the word vertical.  Take pipes away from children and endure ensuing whining.  Be sure to tell the well-meaning salesman thank you. ;)

Step 10:
Walk up to the only checkout open, one of those self-check stands, that would make even Einstein feel stupid, and give thanks that there is actually someone monitoring your pitiful attempts at putting the now 8' PVC pipes into the "bagging area" because the computer lady said so.  And, she means it!  Also give thanks that you don't have to scan 8 elbows, 6 corners and 4 cross-connectors.  He has a secret code to get into the multiple item function so that you can move on with your life and not have to call him after each and every scan to unstick the machine (not to mention your shouting match with the computer lady).

Step 11:
While the nice man is helping you scan your items, take each of your now uber-bouncy children by the arm (gently, of course) and place them seated side by side onto the floor next to the self-check stand.  Tell each of them to sit still or they will have to go straight to bed with no playhouse when you get home and your trip will have been all for naught.  Appear to mean it, but remind yourself of all that you've been through thus far and that you did not make this trip in vain.

Step 12:
Arrive home (FINALLY) and note that it really is almost bedtime.  Talk yourself into giving the kids something fun because, after all, it's the last week of summer and who cares what time it is.  Open cutter package and note that the term 5/8" on the front of the package refers to the INNER diameter.  Kick yourself for not taking the one the salesman offered in the first place.  After trying everything that you can possibly think of including, but not limited to, a tree limb cutter and hedge clippers, call/text a good neighbor to borrow a hacksaw and follow the internet directions to a tee.

Step 13:
With your head held high, return the hacksaw quickly and safely because your list of things to cut is checked off.  After asking the children to put the pipes down for the 17th time, begin building the PVC playhouse.  Be sure to announce to your children that this is the moment you've all been waiting for.  And, in Chevy Chase ala Christmas Vacation fashion, be sure to ask for a drum roll!  After you build up about half of the house, check the directions multiple times and note that one cannot possibly connect elbows to elbows without ANOTHER piece of PVC pipe in between.  Tell the children you will have to finish the house in the morning but that it's time to go to bed.

Step 14:
The next morning, borrow your neighbor's hacksaw again and vow to keep it until the project is fully completed.  Place the small pieces that were missing from the instructions into the connectors and rejoice!  Attempt to attach the roof like the directions state.  Run up and down the stairs checking the directions multiple times.  Also, glance at your email to make sure that the person online whom you wrote in hopes of a response to your questions about their 85-90% correct instructions has not written back.  (Nope!)  Conclude that there is nothing wrong with you and that a person MUST have 45-degree elbows, not 90-degree elbows, for four of the eight you purchased in order to complete this project.  Note also that one of the three-way connectors that the salesman tossed into your cart without your permission has threads on one side.

Step 15:
Grab the too-small cutter, the threaded connector and the 90-degree angled elbows and place them in a bag to return to the store.  Not the bag from Lowe's... that one met its doom when the toddler tried to "help" clean up and threw it into the trashcan on top of a poopy diaper.  Place the parts in a random bag inside the car so you won't forget them along with your sanity.  Repeat your announcement about "bye-bye"and shoes.  Do the same song and dance.  Yada yada.  Only this time, be sure to send your oldest to timeout so that you waste enough time to take the wind out of your sails.  Decide that it's now or never and let him/her out of timeout.  Finally head out the door (again).

Step 16:
Arrive at Lowe's, return your stuff and collect your credit.  Head towards the familiar aisle and hum the tune to "Mission Impossible" in hopes that you won't be spotted again by the salesman.  Be sure to check size, angle, price and threadlessness all while ignoring the three ring circus of children that is running around behind you.

Step 17:
Head to the checkout.  Be thankful when you see a lady who can scan your items in a NON-self-check lane.  

Step 18:
Head home and FINALLY put it all together.

Step 19:
Finish by covering it with sheets/blankets, etc. to dress it up. It should look a little something like this:







Step 20:
Breathe a sigh of relief!!!


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