Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Simple Weekend Pleasures

The weather has been gorgeous. Tulips, daffodils and blossoms are everywhere and the sun has felt so good. People are on their front porches until late at night. And neighborhood friendships have been rekindled in full force as the sun has drawn us all outside.

We had a great weekend. Simple, nice, productive.

We started off helping put in the new garden at the kids's school:

It was great seeing so many kids and adults who didn't really know each other previously work hard together. There's nothing like shared work for building friendships. And I love that some parents at the school got a grant and made this whole garden plan happen despite all odds. I love it when people have a dream and keep their focus and work hard and make things happen.

Yep, Oliver needs a haircut. But he's taking after Ashton and really fighting us on it!

Saturday we worked on a bunch of projects on the house and yard alongside our great neighbors. Jared rebuilt a rotted section of our front porch. I planted new flowers in the back that make me feel so accomplished and happy. We did lots of weeding and started prepping a garden area. There was a good mix of some work and lots of play for the kids all day and we ended the day with a tasty barbeque with our next door neighbors. Perfect day. Everyone went to bed happy and tired from the sun and the work and the play.

Isaac and our very cute 4-year-old neighbor are best friends. Isaac likes to carry him around while he rides his rip stick. Great exercise!
We had our first sprinkler party of the season - it was so hot and the kids had so much fun!

Ashton and a friend prepared and put on a fairly elaborate magic show for all the kids.

Then on Monday, we had a great time with our neighbors, the Ballards. The kids had the time of their lives jumping on the trampoline while spraying each other with the hose.

After the fun in the sun and water, we enjoyed a great dinner of combined left-overs and our two families joined forces to do the "trash-a-thon" fundraiser their school has going on. I'm loving this fundraiser idea. The kids went door-to-door on our block asking for donations and then spent about an hour picking up trash around the neighborhood. It was like a treasure hunt! And it offered a great object lesson in why littering isn't a good thing. The kids were very proud of the 18 grocery bags of trash they collected plus the money they collected for their school. I think this is SO much better than having kids sell over-priced stuff no one really wants!

You know, I think our kids will remember things like playing in the sprinklers and picking up trash around the neighborhood and planting a garden and enjoying our first barbeque of the season as much or more as they'll remember and cherish the memories of vacations and expensive outings. I think they'll cherish the time they've had to play with siblings and neighbors and wander over the library to explore books as much or more as they'll cherish the extracurricular activities they've been part of. We just cut way back on structred extracurricular activities and it's feeling great. I think the simple stuff is the stuff of which a great childhood is made. 

In our house, TV and electronics are only available on rare occasions - Friday night movie night and Saturday morning cartoons are traditions plus we look things up on the internet together and we just don't have many options around - just my laptop, Jared's laptop and a Kindle Fire.... Consequently, the kids spend a lot of time reading and imagining and playing together. They make up plays all the time. They build cool things with legos and K'nex. And they spend tons of time outside on bikes and scooters and shooting hoops as well as working on various projects and acting out various scenarios in the backyard. This past winter and spring, we've had at least a couple days a week when it's been nice enough weather to play outside and outside play has ramped up considerably in the past couple weeks. The kids have worked with neighbors and friends and on their own to built all kinds of forts in the backyard. They've built swings in the tree out there. They've fought off invisible enemies with sticks. And one of their favorite things was this obstacle course they created using all the great raw building materials in our yard (that might look like junk that needs to be thrown out to some people...). They had a balance beam, a stick fort to crawl through, a little plastic slide to slide down, an series of sticks stuck in the ground around which they needed to kick a soccer ball...: 

Yep, we need to rebuild that fence that fell down in a windstorm a while back (working with insurance on that - and as you can see the part that didn't blow down needs to be replaced pretty desperately as well). Yep, the grass in the backyard is a mess (but it's better than the dirt that was there when we moved in!). Yep, the backyard has a bunch of old boards and sticks and rocks and other random stuff in it. And yep, our backyard doesn't boast much conventional backyard beauty. But you know what, in our kids' eyes it's a mecca of exploration, adventure and creation.


S said...

we spent so much of our childhood in the vacant lot across from our house making bike trails, jumps, forts, you name it. my kids do have access to tv and they do watch their fair share, but they are more likely to be outside during the daylight and early evening hours riding bikes, shooting hoops, drawing with chalk on the driveway. my middle son used some scrap building material a neighborhood dad gave him for a bridge across the little stream on the side. one year the older kids constructed their own zip line (no broken bones!) and they also strung two sets of rope between trees as a high wire - they would hold onto the top and balance on the bottom one for hours. I agree simple pleasures are memorable and although I think vacations create wonderful memories, we have the opportunity to create just as wondeful ones at home with inexpensive and readily available resources, whether its movie night, soup night, celebrating less known holidays such as cinco de mayo with your own mexican spread, a raucous game of apples to apples with extended family, cupcake wars at home, or doing a project together like operation closet cleanout or a garage overhaul. Love the backyard pictures - makes me wish I was in your neighborhood as my boys are surrounded by girls (fortunately outdoor loving girls, but still). Oh, and one simple pleasure they LOVED until it came crashing down one day was a swinging vine in the woods - again, thankfully no broken bones, but it was a huge hit for the year it lasted (until it came down under the weight and strain!). hopefully all this will counterweight the fact that we've never been to disneyworld!

Eyrealm said...

Love this post Saren! When I think of my funnest times as a child, it includes driving a truck during the haying season and sleeping in the haystack with the new kittens we found there. Not possible for many so I feel so lucky!


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