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Another Big Bite - DIY Pin Map1Ump…  Hey, over here!

Yeah, pardon me, just getting back from a trip – it was to a place called Off the Face of the Earth, and while we were busy, we got lots done.  But now we’re back on our regular schedule…  I think.

Finn’s room is going swimmingly!  The bed is 95% complete; we have trim work to do and then it is DONE.  While Nathan has been plowing away on all the woodworking, I’ve been breathing down Nae’s neck to get it done finishing up some of the smaller projects; getting art hung, touching up dinged walls, digging things out of storage so they can finally be put up… You know, the usual “easy” stuff.

Another Big Bite - DIY Pin Map

I would be lying if I said I was a big help in the construction of the bed; it’s all been Nathan.  The one project that was truly a joint effort between the two of us was Finn’s map.  We love to travel, and have been living like gypsies since he has been born.  Also, the fam is scattered to the four winds, and wrapping your noggin around how far it is to Grandma’s house is an intangible concept when you are four.

And one needs to know how far it is to Disney World.

We have a pin map for the whole family, but map tacks and foam board are not what you might think of as “kid-friendly.”  Finny needed something on the sturdy side, and he hasn’t been to all the places that Nae and I have.  That, and our map is kinda ugly.  This one is pretty.  Which is really all that matters to me some days.

This baby started out as a 4’x8′ sheet of 3/4″ thick plywood.  We needed a few sheets of plywood to make Finn’s bed, and this fit into the project quite nicely.

photo 1

I started out with a printout of a US map and traced it on to a transparency so I could use the overhead projector I rescued from the garbage for the first time.  Only problem is, I haven’t actually laid eyes on a transparency in the last decade. I DID happen to finish off the box of spinach that morning, though.  I did what any hillbilly resourceful person would do and traced my map onto the lid of the spinach box.  Problem solved.

photo 2

Since Nae knew he would be cutting the map out with a jig saw, I traced it backwards.  When you use a jig saw on plywood, it gnaws out the top layer of veneer, but only on the top of the sheet.  On the backside, there is a nice, perfect cut.

photo 3

Once it was done being cut out, (a process that was tedious and mind-numbing for Nathan – it clocked in at over an hour and a half), Nathan sanded the edges while I taped off the edge behind him.  I love seeing the cross-section of the plywood, and I’ll be damned if I was going to paint it.

photo 4

By the time I got to Michigan, my eye started twitching.  Crimeinitly, taping that SOB was a pain.  Nathan and I moved out on our own together when we were WAY too young, and we called Michigan home for six months before admitting defeat, tucking our tails between our legs and shuffling back to our respective parents’ houses.  Growing up is a bitch.

“Fuck Michigan,” I pronounced to Nathan as he was sanding Maine’s Northern coast.  “Fuck Michigan for when we were nineteen, and fuck Michigan because I can’t tape the edge.  There are too many damn curves.”

“I felt the same way when I was cutting it.  Yes.  Fuck Michigan.”  I love this man.

Also, fuck Florida.  Over the course of sanding, taping, painting, tracing and hanging, all four of us managed to get nailed in the head with the Florida-weiner.  Its only saving grace is Disney World, I tell you.

photo 5

After it was painted, I flipped on the projector one last time, lined the good-ole-U-S-of-A back up and traced the state borders lightly in pencil.  I wanted to be able to put pins in the right spot – so I needed to know where the borders were, but I didn’t want to see them unless I was up close.  Tracing over them with a white paint pen did just the trick.  The state lines don’t pop, but they are easily viewable up close.


For real, it is crazy that my little man has been so many places in his four years on this earth.

Instead of map tacks, we opted to pound giant nails in.  They are in there GOOD – they do not budge at all – and I don’t have to worry about little people unwittingly placing us on some non-existent road trip through Kansas or North Dakota.  The nail heads got a shiny coat of red paint.

By the way, in order for a place to warrant a tack/nail, we had to have spent the night there or done something exceptionally memorable or unique to that particular location.  McDonalds doesn’t count.  The Corn Palace does.  I CANNOT WAIT TO TAKE FINN TO WALL DRUG.

Another Big Bite - DIY Pin Map2

When it came to hang it on the wall, we killed two birds with one stone by drilling screws in all the places that Finn has lived.  Turns out Ohio, Colorado, Washington and Illinois make a pretty nifty span for such a task.  Nathan thinks we need to move to San Diego for a very short stint so the map is REALLY SCREWED IN THERE, but it isn’t moving anytime soon.  I suppose there is something poetic in all of this  – this being held together by all the places you call home – but the sentiment is lost on me after all the work we’ve been doing in the last few weeks.


And surprisingly, Finn is really good at geography.  Holy shit, he knows right where everyone lives, and which “home screw” is which…  He clearly got his father’s sense of direction.  I get lost on the way to the mall.

Maybe, just maybe, if my parents had gotten me a map at a young age, I would be the same way.

Wait.  Nope.  My dad’s brilliant idea to get me a globe one year for Christmas when I was seven made no other impression on me than, “Reaaaally, Dad?  A GLOBE?  For CHRISTMAS?”  I was such a brat.

And maybe Finn feels the same way.  Now I totally understand why my Dad got me that globe.

Another Big Bite - Happy Trails!