U is for… #atozchallenge


I’ve written about being outside and it’s therapeutic tendencies. So it should come with no surprise that today’s post is also about being outside. Since yesterday was Earth Day, this will be fitting.

U is for Urban Garden.

Technically, we’re probably a rural town. But I’m stretching the word to fit not just the cities, but towns, too. It’s a bit big, but it fits. Yesterday after school, we built ourselves a raised garden bed. The seeds have already been started inside. They haven’t even germinated, yet. The last risk of frost doesn’t occur until May 12th!

Anyway… here’s our DIY Garden box in eighteen easy to follow steps.

Step one:
Decide that you’re going to build one and how you’ll do it. Then go to the hardware store and get the materials you’ll think you’ll need.
Wood. We used 6, 8′ long 2 x 6’s. Cedar is apparently best. But we would have had to trade in our first born. While temping, we opted to just get spruce, instead.
Screws. Wood screws to be exact. And if 3″ screws are good, 3.5″ screws are better. We got a pound of them. Don’t worry. You won’t need them.
Brackets. These are bendable pieces of metal we used to hold the boards together. They’re called strap ties.
Go home with your wood and hardware excited to start building.

Step two:
Check out where you can get enough bags of soil to fill your garden box. Here’s a quick math lesson on volume. If your garden box is 8′ x 4’x 1′ what is its volume? Length times width times height. 8 x 4 x 1 = 32 cubic feet. But we’re in Canada so the soil bags are measured in liters. How do you convert 32 cubic feet to liters? It’s actually pretty easy. First, go to Google. Then enter “convert 32 cubic feet to liters” into the search bar. It will tell you the answer is 906.139. See math is easy. If you want to know how to really do it, go here.

Step three:
Drop off the materials you just bought at home. Then return to place you found the cheapest bags of dirt. The world is dirt, but buy bags of it anyway. From step two we know we need 906 liters of dirt. Is it cheaper to buy $6 70L bags or 1$ 25L bags? Hint: buy the 25L bags. You’ll need 36 to fill the box entirely. Buy 30. Get home to discover it’s “Black Earth”.

Step four:
Call your neighbor to borrow his circular saw.

Step five:
Two of the boards you bought need to be cut in 1/2. If you’re not good at math, half of eight is four. Measure twice.

Step six:
Return the circular saw to keep your good standing.

Step seven:
Match boards of the same length along their long side and used the brackets to fasten them together. Allow your 4 year to assist because he’s “a fast driller”. Hence, it will take twice as long to complete, but at least he’s having fun.

garden box 6

Step eight:
Assemble the box. We placed the 8′ lengths with the 4′ lengths between them. With the 3 1/2 screws, screw the 8 footer to the 4 footer at a 90 degree angle.

Step nine:
After you discover that the 3 1/2 screws won’t screw into the wood return to the hardware store for the 2nd time to get 8 right angle brackets and 50 1″ screws.

Step ten:
Using the 1″ screws, screw the right angle brackets to the inside of the garden box frame. You’ll need a bracket for the top plank and one for the bottom.If two screws are good, six are better. When you’re done, it might look like this…
garden box 5

Step eleven:
Repeat this with the other 3 corners.

garden box 4

Step twelve: 
Get your leftover weed control fabric that you used for your pallet garden two years ago from the basement. While you’re down there, get your staple gun and staples, too. Unroll the fabric to discover you only have half as much as you need.

Step thirteen:
Return to the hardware store for the 3rd time for more weed control fabric. Pick up a sheet of cheap plastic while you’re out, too.

Step fourteen:
With your new roll of fabric, roll the fabric over the frame of the box. Staple the shit out of it.

garden box 3

Step fifteen:
Flip over the frame so that the fabric is on the bottom. Pray that it’s sturdy. Praise your DW when it is.garden box 1

Step sixteen:
Empty the 30 bags of black earth into the garden box. Forget to take a picture of it full of black earth.

Step seventeen:
Just like you did with the weed control fabric, use the sheet of plastic to cover the top. This will deter any animals (like neighborhood cats) from using it as a king size litter box. It will also attract kids to poke holes in it.

Step eighteen:
Photograph the finished product for facebook and the blog.


O is for… #atozchallenge


Please stop reading this.

Off. Like the insect repellent. But not. Though, where we go, Off might be required. Because where we go is off the hook! (slang for awesome, if you’re not up to date on 8 year old slang)

When life gets crazy, as it often does when you’re stuck in the house with the same people for days on end, it’s time to get out,  unplug, unwind, and go off the grid.

It’s drug free. It’s all natural. Organic.
There’s no wi-fi. It’s not scent free, either.

It’s outside.

When the boys have nothing better to do than bug, irk, annoy, irritate and sit on each other, out they go. Out there, the possibilities are endless.

  • Climb trees
  • Splash in the creek (they found $20 splashing back there once)
  • Dig in the dirt
  • Hunt lions
  • Explore the rainforest
  • Slay dragons

Outside is where the sports happen, too. A game of catch. A 2 player baseball game. Soccer. Frisbee golf. If it’s summertime there will be trampolining. This is just the backyard.

If we’re ambitious, you’ll find us on our bikes. Lucky Bang gets to ride in the “chariot” (the bike trailer). Unfortunately, Crash outgrew his last bike, so he now needs a new one. Before he outgrew it we’d normally ride about four miles. He amazingly did 8 one day.

Attitudes change when we’re outside. Like a 9th inning, game winning homerun, happiness reigns. Smiles rule. Excitment overflows. It might be the fresh air. That highly oxygenated outside air is so much richer than that stale, motionless indoor brand. Maybe it’s the sunshine. A common side effect of elevated vitamin D levels causes euphoria, silliness, laughter and cartwheels.

There’s another reason people outside are significantly happier than the indoor species. Dirt. It’s not just dirty, it’s healthy. Don’t be afraid of the word bacteria. Like humans, there are good ones and bad ones. The good ones help a neighbor or digest food. The bad ones don’t use a turn signal or cause diarrhea.

Recent research shows that Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria found in soil, has been found to trigger the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. ~HealingLandscapes.org

Like I said, stop reading this. Go outside, get dirty, breathe in that fresh air, soak in the vitamin D and get happy!

We’ll meetcha in the yard!


Once Upon A Wish

Once upon a time, I used to wish to have a baby girl. Sugar. Spice. Everything nice. Pony tails and painted nails. Tea parties and cute dresses. Turns out my Y’s are faster swimmers than my X’s so we only make boys. Welcome to the boys womb. Where there’s always, dirt, noise, and pee on the toilet seat.

Just like my parents before me, we have two boys, Crash and Bang. Perhaps you’ve heard a bit about them? We have been asked numerous times if we’re going to try for a girl. We’re good with two boys. I’ve heard stories about people “trying for a girl” and end up with 6 boys. No thanks. We’re good.

If I am their Superadad, they are my Supersons. We fight off villains with Nerf guns. We embark on grand adventures through the high grasses of the small field behind our yard. We climb trees and “mine for gold” (aka dig holes in the mud). We slop when we eat and we rarely make in the toilet when we pee.

Their energy knows no bounds. They show no signs of slowing down any time soon, either. That’s okay. I wouldn’t want them, too. Trampolining, playgrounds and bike rides in the summertime. Sledding, snowballs, snowmen, and igloos through the winter. After all of this they still have the energy to play inside. Legos, floor hockey, and sword fights. Hide and seek, jumping on beds, and practical jokes (everyone loves a good scare except the person getting scared).

They drive us absolutely insane sometimes. They kick off their muddy boots. Literally. Mud right up the walls. Wet snow clothes in heap by the back door. Toys strewn everywhere. The video game craze and all things Minecraft, Mario, Lego and trucks of every kind. Everything they touch falls to pieces. Some of the stuff they broke we thought should be indestructible. Guess we should have known  better.

They make us laugh. They decide at bedtime, after fifteen minutes of laying quietly, that it’s time show us how to do the whip and nae nae dance they learned at school. Stanky leg included. They come screaming down a hill on a sled and hit the jump at the bottom then hit the ground rolling with laughter. Then do it again and again. They talk to themselves while sitting on the toilet having a poo. And he’s not done pooing until he’s done talking to himself so don’t bother interrupting. They tell the same joke a thousand times because it was funny the first time. But mostly because it’s the first real joke they learned to tell.

What do you call cheese that doesn’t belong to you?
Nacho cheese.

They make us say things we never dreamed we would say. Stop playing with your pee pee. Don’t touch your brother’s pee pee either! Where are your pants? Don’t sit on your bother’s head. Don’t fart on his head either. Who wiped their booger on the couch? Who peed in the garbage can?

But most of all, they make us feel loved. When we find ourselves in a quiet moment, they snuggle up so close we can feel their breathing slow as they drift off to sleep. When all they want is a hug. When they think of each other and want to buy two chocolates instead of just one for themselves. When we get a random “I love you” from them for no reason other than to remind us.

I no longer wish to have girls. We may not be all ponytails, painted nails and everything nice around our house. But we do have a well balanced life of love, happiness and frustration. Or perhaps we just love to be happily frustrated?