A Backyard Zip-Line (and other Iowa awesomeness)

Just to further confuse those of you who thought we lived in LA, but then thought it seemed liked we lived in Chicago, I'm currently blogging at you from Ames, Iowa: home of the Cyclones and my lovely sister and her family.

We're on a vacation-in-a-vacation as it were, stopping by Iowa for a week as we wind up our two months of staying with my husband's family in Chicago before heading back home (to LA, where we live). My parents are here visiting as well, and my sister's property is uh-mazing. It's like being at a fancy wilderness lodge. We've all been having a really great time.

If you read my blog regularly, you will have seen my other Best Grandad Ever posts, which have featured projects my dad has built with or for the kids. They include an X-Wing Bomber, a swimming pool submarine, and a leaf-blower hovercraft. So it won't surprise you any to learn that Grandad, Uncle Bryan, and the kids threw together a 250 foot-long zip-line in the back yard yesterday afternoon.

This is actually the second zip-line Grandad has installed. The first goes into their pool at home in San Diego. It's made of cable and rope and a spare toilet-seat (and, of course, awesome). This one is quite professional, with a real zip-line seat and everything.

He ordered all the parts from Amazon, and Jack, Grandad, and Uncle Bryan had the whole thing installed in about an hour, even with the able assistance of two very helpful little girls and one bow-and-arrow sniper.

My Dad's going to make a how-to video, so that will probably be up here on Friday, but in case you want to order the supplies right now, here's what you'll need:

  1. A huge awesome backyard with a downward slope (not sold at Amazon)
  2. Zip Line Trolley Kit with Seat (that one's not available right now, but this one with a disc seat instead of the swing is)
  3. Tow Strap
    to attach to the trees (cut in half)
  4. Cable
  5. Wire Rope Clips
    (need 2 packs)
  6. Comealong with 2 Hooks
  7. Stop Bungee Cord
  8. Snap Hook Round Swivel Eye
    for Bungee wire slider
  9. update: Jennifer reminded me that you also need trees! You CAN get those on Amazon, but then you'll need to wait like 20 years.

The kids love it, obviously. My favorite thing about it is that in the backyard, there aren't any minimum-wage teenagers to keep pregnant ladies from doing fun stuff!

Speaking of fun stuff, that was not all. Oh, no that was not all.

We also fished in the pond:

Why yes, that IS a pink princess fishing pole. Thank you for asking.

We waded in the creek and swam in the pond and walked on the paths and kayaked and floated and made mud pies:

And then we made actual cookies:

And that was only our first day!

Today, we got all gussied up. Here's what I wore:

Dress and Shrug: Motherhood Maternity; Bump: 23 weeks

Pearls: a gift from my parent's trip to China; Pocket-watch: my Grandmother; Photo-bomb: Frankie; Shoes: Zappos (Funny story about those shoes. I had a maternity dress from last go-round that I wore with some brown platform sandals. Then the sandals broke. So, I bought these new shoes to go with the dress. But THEN when I put the dress on, I found that somehow it had shrunk and was too short. So, I had to go to the mall and buy this dress to go with the shoes. First-world problems, right? But I really like it. It's cotton. I hate that all maternity dresses are stretch jersey. Yuck.)

My photographer and her associates (including cousin Emma). Blue polka dot dresses are from Orient Expressed. Their stuff is beautiful and old-fashioned and if you skip straight to the sale page, it's not TOO terribly expensive. (Thanks Nana!) Shoes: target; Sweaters: Old Navy; Aloha Frankie is courtesy of Gymboree (one of the few remaining things from when Jack was a baby!)

After the photo shoot, my parents and the kids and I went off to the Catholic Church in town and my sister and her husband and their kids went to their Protestant Church. The girls were so sad to be separated. It was a lovely reminder of how tragic are the divisions within Christianity.

Let's join the Holy Father in praying for Christian Unity!

Thanks to the ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting What I Wore Sunday.