Backyard Race Car Track & …Dinosaur Garden? 🚚🦕


Well.  Damn, you Pinterest.  Ha ha.  We made more progress on the Back Yard Race Car Track.  It may now also be a construction zone, gravel pit, monster truck arena, and dinosaur garden.  Molly even asked about building a volcano.  I do have an extra bag of concrete.

#BackyardRaceCarTrack, #DinosaurGarden, & #MonsterTruckArena! #DadStuff

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Check out the latest photos.  We added a gravel pit, some large rocks for edging-work to try to contain the gravel, and dug out the grass so we have a dirt pit.  Not sure if I should plant grass and leave a dirt track, or make it all a dirt pit.  I may try to buy some river rock to make the outside edges look a little neater, and mix some more extra sloppy concrete to smooth it over, and fill in the edges smooth.

I bet it will evolve greatly over time.

I’m anxious to see photos of other projects like this.  Show me what you’ve got in the comments!

 

 

🚧 🚧 🚧 👷 👷‍♀️ 🚚 🦕 🚗 🏁 🧚 🌱 🚧 🚧 🚧

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🚧 🚗🏁 Backyard Race Car Track & Fairy Garden Construction! 🧚🌱🚧


So, on Labor Day this year, we labored.  We finally got around to pouring cement for the Backyard Race Car Track, and we started a Fairy Garden.

I have been sitting on the race car track idea for a while, and wondering what to do landscape-wise around the one small tree in the back.  We recently got some fairy garden furniture stuff as a gift… so we thought that would be a cool second (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th?) backyard play-space.

I had purchased some Quikrete coloring from Amazon a while ago, and some bags of Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix from Home Depot this Saturday knowing that we had a full day to work today.

We had also started the digging a while ago when Ian was over-zealous and wanted to “Dig, Dig Dig!” in the back yard.

Ian is getting serious with this #BackyardRaceCarTrack. #excavator #shenanigans

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We had an easy enough start, put down some gravel, and mixed two of the three bags of Sand/Topping Mix with the coloring.  I mixed it a little thick, and really what was all the coloring was meant to cover.  The track was only about ‎⅔ of the way complete.  So, I mixed the one other bag we had on hand.  It was a little sloppier and went on really well.  The kids helped in a kid-helping capacity, and Bethany did nearly all of the troweling/finishing work.  Molly told me that she wanted to use the trowel because that’s what “brick builders” use to put the stuff in between bricks.  I have no idea where she learned that.

So.  It was obvious we needed a quick trip back to Home Depot to get some more bags.  Ian & I went on a mission.

Going into @homedepot dirty, so the other customers know we mean business.

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I asked the little man if we should get 3, or 4.  He was adamant about getting 4.  We also got the cheapest bag of garden soil, and some pebbles.  Sadly, the bottle of coloring didn’t last long, and maddeningly Home Depot didn’t carry it… even with two shelves full of Quikrete products.  I ended up asking if they had anything in the paint department, and they just had a concrete paint or dye to use after the fact.

We got back and Bethany made us a delicious salad for lunch.  We needed to re-fuel for more work out back!  I mixed 2 more bags, with some help:

After that, we did use just one more bag… but that’s OK.  I can use the rest for some driveway patch work now that I have some more recent practice with this stuff.  (A long time ago, I worked for a bit for a general contractor, and would sometimes mix mortar all day for the subcontracted bricklayers.)

For now, that’s about all we can do.  The bag says it needs to set up for five days.  Hopefully we can be patient and the neighborhood wildlife (including my children) stays out of it.  I did grab an odd old brick from out front that had originally been in the back yard, and made a sort of garage out of it.  I plan to get some river rocks or pebbles or something to kind of clean up the edges of the track.  Maybe they will need to go on with concrete, or some of that stuff that comes in a caulking-gun dispenser.  If they’re not stuck down, they will end up all over and most likely destroy my lawn mower.

The other quick family project was to make a fairy garden.  I was hoping to use stuff that we had around in addition to the recently gifted furniture and starter items.

After thinking about a couple of different ideas, we settled on me taking a chainsaw to some large branches and small logs that we had out back, and driving nails partway into the bottom so we could drive them into the ground and they would hopefully hold.  It worked!

I played with the chainsaw, demonstrated the nail technique, then Bethany and the kids did most of the nail-driving… and I think that was mostly Bethany.  Molly helped me place them around the tree in sort of a kidney bean shape, including an old wooden bucket that I think we bought from the estate sale of the previous owner of this house (who coincidentally said she would miss the little tree in the backyard most of all).

Then we pulled up 90% of the grass, and Ian hauled it away in his wheelbarrow.  We put down the bag of cheap garden soil and it was perfect for coverage & fairy garden decoration placement.  We also planted a small succulent plant that my mom had recently given us in a small pot that should be durable outdoors, but may look cool covered in small round stones so it looks like a fairy house.  We’re putting Grandma on craft duty to help make little projects to decorate the space.  I would love to use some of the stuff we have around the yard or house like tiny terracotta pots, or Popsicle sticks, or wire.

Is it a #FairyGarden or a #SquirrelPlayground?

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It would be nice to plant some small ornamental succulents, moss, or super tiny flowers eventually too.  Luckily (?) Pinterest is an endless rabbit hole when it comes to fairy garden stuff.  Speaking of rabbits, our backyard is overrun with them as well as squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, and who knows what else.  Think they’ll leave this stuff alone?

At any rate, playing in the dirt has been proven over-and-over to be good for you.  These spaces offer two additional opportunities for the kids to get into the dirt in the back yard.  It’s great to learn about gardening, ecosystems, using your imagination, and more… all without even realizing that you’re learning.

Check out some photos from the day if you have the time and interest, and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

 

If this is something you’d like to try yourself, check out these Pinterest boards for inspiration:

If it’s something you have tried yourself, please share your stuff in the comments!  I would love to see some other backyard family projects.

Caption This! Butterscotch in the Christmas Tree. 🐱🎄


My wife got a great shot of our cat Butterscotch in the Christmas tree.  I know some amusing people.  Let’s have a caption contest in the comments!

Butterscotch in the Christmas Tree

Caption this in the comments!

I got some funny ones too, but Bethany‘s shot takes the cake:

#JingleTails?

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>^.^<

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It's actually a pretty good seat. #CatsOfInstagram

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Do you see it? #CatsOfInstagram

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We might have to leave the tree up all year, just for #Butterscotch. 🎄

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#Scutterbotch.

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So, in the spring I want to build an outdoor Matchbox car race track… 🚗


How cool is this?

Since the bean house was a bit of a bust, maybe this will be a hit.  It looks like it can get as complicated or remain as simple as you’d like.  I have pinned a bunch of ideas.  I’d like to include an area for construction vehicles… maybe tiny pebbles, not sand.  I hate sand.  I like the use of the tire in the one… and the dirt road, and tunnels.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to snag a bunch of ideas online, specifically Pinterest I guess. Looks super fun for both kids, and me!

Have you done anything like this?

So, they call it a Babymoon…


Apparently the newest annoying word for some time away is Babymoon.  It’s better than Daycation or Staycation, but still annoying.  The word is annoying, but the actual time away isn’t.  With the impending arrival getting closer and closer, many online pregnancy-related websites & email lists suggest taking a babymoon.  This goes especially for first time parents, as a nice little last fling before all of your apparent freedoms disappear.

We decided a while ago that a nice little getaway to a cabin would be the way to go.  We have been tent camping at Forest Ridge Cabins and Campgrounds before, but had never tried out the cabins.  They always looked quite inviting.  The campground itself is always clean, and the owners are quite hospitable.  The prices are competitive with other places that we checked out online, and really quite affordable.  Important for the babymoon aspect, it’s not that far away.  Cabins are our thing now I guess… since we honeymooned in one in Gatlinburg, TN.  It all just seemed to make sense.

We booked the date a while ago, assuming that since it was spring we’d have a nice warm weekend.  It was a nice weekend, but there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground, and the temperature never got much above freezing.

We stayed in the Allegheny cabin, and it was warm & cozy inside.  We brought along some DVD‘s, cooked some s’mores (with peanut butter cups) around the campfire, and just had a nice relaxing weekend.  The kitchen was stocked with all kinds of cookware and utensils, we made a nice steak dinner on Saturday.  I also made a friend in Oliver, one of the campground cats.  He strolled up as I was waiting for the last log to burn out on the campfire, then followed me up on the porch to hang out a but on top of the hot tub cover.  He liked to look in the window at us, then look away when he saw that we were looking at him.

I think we’ve decided that Forest Ridge is “our place” as far as camping when we’re not going camping at Living Waters.

Check out Forest Ridge on Facebook, Twitter, & Yelp, and check out some of our photos…

Concert Stereotypes


Rock Concert!

Rock Concert!

This topic was by my friend Laurel the other night at the Dropkick Murphys Shamrock-N-Roll tour.  I know I’ve had this conversation before with others.  I decided to take it & digitally run with it.  Stereotypes are generally a bad idea, but they sure are funny.  A punk rock show, or really any show… is full of them.  I’ll start a list.  You’ll contribute in the comments.

  • That” guy.  Formerly known as “the guy that wears the shirt of the band he’s going to see”, but shortened to “that guy” because that’s a mouthful.  I’ve been that guy.  I bet you’ve been that guy.  Somehow it’s sometimes seen as cool… and sometimes not.  This is probably more acceptable/expected at a Misfits or ICP show than anywhere else.
  • The “Windmill” Guy.  Generally, he’s in a college hoodie, maybe even with his Greek letters on it.  He’s visibly drunk, and probably double-fisting when not in the pit, flailing his arms around in an effort to be cool and badass by totally missing the point of slam-dancing or moshing by trying to hurt people… and take as much punishment as they can get.  You can also spot them by the off-kilter fitted cap, thank Fred Durst for these toolbags.
  • Old Creepy Guy.  I’m rapidly becoming this guy.  I’m cool with that.  The recent Shamrock-N-Roll show saw a really diverse group of concert-goers.  There were grandmas & grandkids all over the place!  Generally though, at smaller shows… there’s a lone dude just hangin’ out that doesn’t seem like he’d be into whatever’s going on at all.
  • Your new best friend.  Cat comes up & starts talking like you’re old buds.  No big deal right?  You’re obviously both fans of the same band, you’re both there.  What’s the harm?  The conversation turns way too intimate or inappropriate quite soon.  You have no escape.  This guy’s probably drunk.  Hopefully, anyway.  He has no concept of personal space, and is telling you all about the band/joke/logo on your T-shirt.
  • The “Stuffed Sausage”.  Generally a petite-in-height but not in girth young lady with self-esteem issues.  Most likely she started as quite an attractive curvy woman, but donned about 3 lbs. of makeup, pushed up and bared most of her boobies, hung some butt cheeks out of a tiny skirt or shorts… and all of her clothing is about 2 sizes too small.  I’m not hatin’, I’m just sayin’.
  • The nearly blind-drunk guy.  There’s always a stumbler ambling through the crowd that’s just there for beer.  At $30-$50 for a concert ticket without TicketBastard fees, and $7-$9 per tiny draft beer… the whole concept is pretty ridiculous.  This guy generally looks like he doesn’t belong anyway.  He squints to see, walks sideways while looking straight ahead, and smells like the floor of a brewery.
  • The militant lesbian.  I’m not going to say much here, for fear of getting beat up.  The partially shaved head and camo pants are a sexy sexy combo that’s always in style.
  • Lookatmytats. This dude or dudette has spent thousands of dollars & hours under the needle, so they wear as little clothing as possible in order to bare their epidermal canvass.  I would too were I all inked up, I think.  Generally this is accompanied by gauges or other “non-traditional” piercings.  Not to be confused with Lookatmytatas, who needs no explanation.
  • Wikipedia Guy.  This one is always directly behind or in front of me at concerts where you have an actual seat… also prevalent at Pens games.  Wikipedia guy isn’t here to be entertained, he’s here to wow the people with him & anyone in earshot with his knowledge of the band’s formation, various lineups, demo material, and complete discography including various pressings and formats.  I’m in danger of being this guy, and it’s so annoying.  I love my music & trivia… but try to only spout when asked, & not broadcast it.

That’s my starter list.

I know I’m missing more than a few that I see regularly, but I’m hoping someone else will think of them too… so I’m not all alone here.  What about the kid with headphones?  The super-fan?  The crying girl?  The PDA couple?

Please, leave the name of your concert-going stereotype in the comments section below.  If you’re feeling creative, how about a description too?  If you have landed here via Facebook or Twitter & you’re still logged in there… you can comment below with no hassles.  You can also just comment w/o logging in.  WordPress just asks for a name & an email address to go along with your comments, with the option of a URL.

What stereotype are you?  Which one do you love?  Which one do you hate?  Which one are you?  Which one am I?  Have any comments/additions/corrections to the ones I’ve already listed?

Perhaps I’ll compile another blog with all the results, perhaps they’ll just live in the comments section… but I need your help making the list!

POOR DANK SIGN / DANG PRISON OK


I love wordplay, anagrams, and word origins.  Sometimes, I imagine to myself that the subject of this post must be how some people see this sign:

NO DOGS IN PARK

NO DOGS IN PARK

At least, that’s maybe what I hope… that they have some learning disability, a reading comprehension problem, are from a foreign country, or are just flat-out illiterate.  I’d rather believe any excuse over the probable truth;  They just don’t care.

Before we get the animal lovers all riled up… I’d like to make it clear that I’m not arguing against dogs being allowed in the park.  In fact, I think the paths in the park are a perfect place to walk your dog, and that animal lovers everywhere ought to band together to get this rule appealed.

Barring your (and my) personal opinion though, the rule still stands that our canine friends are prohibited from the park.  I mean, that sign is pretty clear.  There’s not really any way to misunderstand the message put forth, and there are plenty of them all around the park.  (If you need to actually see it in writing from an authority, I have done you the favor of finding the Dormont Borough Code online, and you can see in Article I of Chapter 75  [The Animal Code] § 75-2, that animals are prohibited in the park areas.)

I’m not suggesting that the Dormont police patrol the park to hand out pointless citations, as they most certainly have better things to do with their time.

I mean, I get that we were brought up with Fred Rogers telling us all that we’re special and different.  Somehow that may have translated to the belief that rules that you don’t like simply don’t apply to you.  I also get that to a certain extent.  I mean, it’s got to be some kind of inherent human nature to question authority.  When you’re told do do something, you recoil a little bit with an internal “excuse me?” At least, I do.  The reaction is stronger and longer if it’s something that you don’t want to do or something that you don’t agree with.  Perhaps I have just listened to too much anarchy-themed punk rock over the years.

How this translates to the “laws don’t apply to me” mentality, I just don’t get it.  This is just another take on my shopping cart rant, I guess.  The main difference being that that only applied to general guidelines of polite  and decent behavior, and this applies to an actual law… however trivial that law may be.

I’m not saying I’m better than you, or that I never break any laws.  I had a problem a long time ago with collecting speeding tickets, and barring my recent Illinois interstate relapse, it’s common knowledge among my friends and family that I pretty much drive like someone’s grandma these days.  We generally all go faster than 25 MPH in 25 MPH zones (unless we’re on a school campus, busy city intersection, or in front of a police station).  Living in Pennsylvania, I remember the collective sigh of state-wide relief when the speed limit was raised from 55 MPH to 65 MPH.  People didn’t like the law, so they wrote, campaigned, and things were changed.

Perhaps it’s a risk thing?  If I’m speeding, I’m generally thinking the probability of being caught is low… so it’s rationalized as OK with me somehow.  If you bring your dog to the park, are you thinking that there’s never really a police presence in the park, and no one’s going to turn you in so you’re safe?

Is it the classic “well, other people are doing it”?  I can see this one working in someone’s head too.  My wife & I walk in the park probably 5 days out of the week most weeks.  On any given day, we see at least one dog in the park, sometimes as many as 5 or so at a time.  If I were a dog owner in an urban area with access to a beautiful nearby park where other people are walking their dogs, I’m sure I’d bring my dog out too.  Rationale being that all the other dogs are out, so it must be OK.

In fact, not to long ago, we helped a lady corral her unleashed little beagle mix.  He was clearly not ready to go home, and she was in no condition to run after her dog.  Standing and yelling “come here, Casey!” apparently doesn’t work all that well with small excitable furry friends.  He was quite eager to romp over to us ready for more play.  Unfortunately his unconditional offer of puppy playtime was betrayed by us turning him over to his owner.

When I started out, this was going to be another “what’s wrong with you people”* blog with a “what is wrong with a society that stops paying attention to the little rules” tone.  I think the latter has taken precedent, with myself included.

I have just realized that I too would probably be an ass that ignores the sign, and brings my dog to the park until I got that 1st citation.

This leaves me still with the questions of what makes one think that the rules don’t apply to them?  Is it a belief of being “above” the rules?  No fear of penalty?  The thought that if the next person is doing it, it’s OK for you?  The general disagreement with the rule in the first place?  Lack of a presented penalty?  (ie., if the sign also said “$300 fine for violations,” would it deter you?) Is it an aggregate of all the smaller rationalizations?

We’re (arguably) a country founded on breaking the rules… but have we gotten to a point where fighting for a rule change is beneath us, or are we just too lazy to change it?

I’m guessing the NO DOGS IN PARK rule is in place mainly because people don’t pick up the pooch poop once it’s dropped, closely followed by a certain amount of fear of the angry biting dog.  This rule was probably enacted because people weren’t controlling their animals in the first place out of laziness or an “I’m better than you” attitude.  Wow.  It’s just a vicious circle, isn’t it?

As someone who suffers from a severe food allergy, and only somewhat irrational fear of all things shellfish… I can imagine that someone coming to the park with a dog allergy and/or a fear of dogs might have a heightened sense of anger and betrayal at the appearance of a giant hairy dog walking right by the “NO DOGS IN PARK” sign.

Perhaps people ought to get together to create pet-friendly and pet-free sections of the park?  Perhaps the rule could be changed to “pets only on leashes & pickup poop or it’s a $___ fine” rule?

I guess I’d just like to hear everyone’s thoughts on rules like this.

  • Do you think the law is a good one?
  • What is your opinion of those who violate the law?
  • Why do you think they have no problem ignoring the posted signs?
  • What do you think of the lack of the local authorities’ enforcement of the law?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts…

(*Note: Comma omitted per the advice of my grammatical advisory panel, Dave and Kristin!)