AKA: baby gate.
Our ship has a set of stairs leading from the main deck to the crews quarters that isn’t exactly easy to fit a conventional baby gate to. At the end of the poopdeck (hallway) is the back door, which leads to the back deck (yard), standing at the door, to your immediate right is a triangular step, then another triangular step, which works as a way to turn you parallel to the poopdeck in order to ascend up to the crew quarters. The wall along the hall (and to the right as you go up) starts about 5 steps up, so there was NOWHERE to attach a baby gate to. The only non-conventional baby gate I found that would work for these stairs cost $120, plus tax, plus gas to drive to Babies R Us, 25 km away and back. I figure upwards of $150 if you figure in wanting to stop for a drink or snack along the way. For the longest time, we had a pack-n-play in front of the steps, weighted down of course, because Fidget knew he could just move it and climb the stairs…but the pack-n-play blocked the back door. I was tired of it. So, I enlisted the assistance of my Captain and our friend Aley of The Crazy Duck and we made our own! Here is our journey…
Aley suggests buying sanded plywood and hinges to make our own gate. We measure the area needing blocked. My Captain suggested making the gate a chalkboard for Fidget to write on. Excellent idea! I came up with making a border around the chalkboard and painting letters, numbers and shapes to be used for homeschooling. Another great idea! So the baby gate has turned into a BABY GATE LEARNING CENTER!
We had our ideas…now we needed the parts: sanded plywood cut to size, two hinges, hook and eye closure, chalkboard paint, stencils. We had border paint, paintbrushes and acrylic paints for the letters/numbers/shapes. We initially spent $61 and change for the cut plywood, hinges, closure, un-sanded grout and red red wine Behr paint (sample size). I ended up buying a quart of the Behr paint later for $11 an change. Then the fun began!
We put up the gate with the hinges. We ran into a snag and had to move the gate a bit in order to get the hinges in the wall. We attached the hook and eye closure and this is what it looked like pre-painted. (Yes, that’s the Captain being funny.
The hinge screws were a little long so the Captain had to cut them off. He had fun and the sparks were flying! Then came the base paint in what would be the border colour. We mixed the Behr paint and the unsanded grout (1 cup paint per 2 TBS grout-make sure it is UN-SANDED) to make our own custom colour chalkboard paint. After the first coat, the Captain decided to spackle it to make the surface smoother. We sanded and painted several more coats over that. When the chalkboard was all done, I got out the stencils that I made (printed letters on parchment…if you are going to make your own stencils, I suggest thick card stock, I didn’t have any so I made due with the parchment which is a bit thicker than regular printer paper). I used a scrapbooking knife and self-healing mat to cut the stencils, taped them onto the border and painted them with acrylics. Here’s the finished baby gate learning center! (That’s the Captain, writing all of our names in Korean.)
The pic is a little small, A-M are up top with “daytime” (a sun done in yellow, orange and red) in the top left corner. Down the left border is a circle (red), square (orange), triangle (yellow), oval (green), rectangle (blue) and star (purple). Along the bottom is N-Z with “nightime” (blue moon with 2 purple stars and 1 green star) in the bottom right corner. Numbers 0-9 run down the right side border. All in rainbow colours.
For a little less than $72 we now have a custom baby gate learning center…when Fidget gets big enough to safely traverse the stairs, we will remove the gate from the steps, remove the hinges and hook and eye, mount the learning center on the wall and voila! YEARS of use!
Arr! Pirate Mum