Saturday, June 22, 2013

We have our work cut out for us

I love our home.

We bought this house in July, three years ago, and one of the things that sold us on it was the yard.  It was a good size for city dwellers like us, with nothing at all in it, a blank slate, just waiting for us to kid it up with a swing set and bikes and balls, and gardens just the way we want them.

We've done all of that, but in the meantime we've figured out that we have some pretty serious issues when it comes to water.  With any significant rain the whole yard floods, and sometimes even forces seepage into our basement.  It's rendered the backyard useless for much of the spring and fall seasons, which is not good when I have boys with pent up energy.  We think it's a combination of compacted soil that doesn't receive the water very well (it just sits on top of it), and our yard just plain being too low compared to neighboring ones.

So this is the year we decided to do something about it.  On Memorial Day weekend, we ordered 10 yards of dirt and had it dumped in our driveway.

Ten yards is A LOT of dirt.

We started right at the back of the house, tilled up the compacted soil, and built up the dirt by a good 12 inches.  We created some simple flower beds (which we'll plant later) against the house, and tried our best to very gradually slope the dirt out from there.

Ten yards took us about 1/3 of the way back, and we roped it off and planted some grass seed, hoping for the best.  We planned to do the yard in phases, so that the kids could still use the back half of it while we got grass growing in this area.  (That area to the right of the white fence will later be my patio.  We're ignoring it for now.)

A couple of weeks later, we got our first heavy rain.  A test.  I kept looking out to see what our new area was looking like:  
So far so good, it seems to be draining.  But wait -- just beyond where we finished looks even worse than usual.  Well of course it does, we haven't done that part yet, and that's why we have to.  No wait -- it looks pretty bad, like lake bad.
Well, maybe pond would be a more accurate description, because soon we had this:
If you knew where we live, you'd know how hilarious this actually is, because you just don't have ducks in your backyard here.  I could not believe it when I saw them.  They hung around for a couple of days, just doing their duck thing.

That picture was taken nine days ago, and only the last couple days can we walk around out there without being in a soggy mess.  The water didn't have any place to go (which is good, because our basement wasn't on its list of options this time!), so it sat there, and killed what little grass had been there, and made our yard smell like a swamp.  It was looking like that's how it would be with any rain at this point...

So... phase two has come sooner than we had hoped or expected.  We had another 10 yards of topsoil delivered.  We're tilling and wheelbarrowing, and praying this all works out!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


We're in the middle of birthday week again.  (How did we manage to create birthday pairs so many times over?)  Sebastian turned 3 yesterday and Isaac will be 5 tomorrow.

We went camping this past weekend.  It was so, so much fun.  It had been a while since we had all camped together as a family, and this trip reminded me that we're really good at it!  Camping suits us well, and we're sure to be doing more of it in the near future.

There's so much else going on, and so many things I'd like to record here, but time eludes me.  For now, a photo dump of our weekend:

 Mmmmm.... there's nothing like cooking over a campfire.

 These cloaks have served us well.  In fact, we have some new ones, freshly made for this trip.

 The view over my shoulder at the campfire.  This girl loves the Ergo.

 Walkie-talkies are always handy while camping.  (Who is that mysterious figure in the background?)

 They certainly enjoyed the public bathrooms more than I did.

 I'd like to say that this is just my camping look, but no, this is pretty much what I look like all the time.

 Oliver is a true outdoorsman.  Nothing bothers him.  No amount of dirt embedded in his skin, or sand filling his clothes can get this kid down.  And he takes his coffee black.

 Check out this profile.  Love.

 She was happy as a clam at the beach, playing in the sand.


 All six of the boys are in this picture.  Can you spot them all?

 Sebastian can be kind of ornery. (ahem) And bossy.

 In these pictures, he's mad that I'm trying to take his picture instead of taking one of the boat like he was telling me to.

 "It's over THERE!"

 "Point the camera THAT WAY!"

 "This is edible rock, right?"

 "C'mon, I was kidding!"

 My sweet husband.

 We brought home lots and lots of sand.  Not on purpose, and not all in one place.

 Maybe no one will notice...
"Owen, put her back where she was."

Dang, caught.

 Sorry, G.  They're not going to let you have any fun.

 Back at the campsite.  That pack n' play was gathering dust in the basement.  I never use it, but have held onto it since Blake was born.  I thought it might come in handy this weekend.  It did...for about 12 minutes.  Maybe time for the donation pile.

 Thankfully, a messy campsite doesn't bother me nearly as much as a messy house does.

 This was Sunday morning, after a night of crazy thunderstorms.

 I did a lot of this.

The end.

Monday, June 3, 2013

On a Monday Morning

It's a beautiful, sunny morning here today.  The start of a new week and a new month.  I'm feeling happy and optimistic, two things that can be hard to come by some days.  What treats will come my way today?  What obstacles?  Who knows.  Can I handle it?  Oh sure, I usually do.  As long as I remember why, and Who, I can do all things. 
Because it's a big job, you know.