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.

I hate public bathrooms.


Abandonded, dirty bathroom - Seattle

Image by StartTheDay via Flickr

Well, I’m sure everyone does to a certain extent.  I hate them for the obvious reasons of comfort/germs/privacy just like (I’d imagine) everyone else.  I mean, everyone would rather do business on their own throne & all alone, am I right?

I hate public facilities for other reasons that are somehow more annoying than the obvious…

  • They’re never stocked properly.  Okay, I guess this one’s obvious.  Sorry.  Perhaps I should also say “rarely” instead of “never”, but I’m ranting here.  If something’s not out completely, the dispenser is jammed which is worse because it’s there but you can’t get to it.  Soap? Toilet paper? Hand towels?  Who needs ’em, right?
  • TP Quality.  If I can see through it and  have to go bad enough that I’m actually pooping in a public bathroom, you can guarantee that I’m going to wad it so much that you should have just bought the better stuff anyway.
  • The “hey we cleaned it 10 min. ago” sign-in sheets.  Yeah, “cleaned”.
  • Sink design.  There seem to be a lot of sink designers out there that have never actually washed their hands.  When the faucet hangs about 2 inches over a sink basin with a large slope… my knuckles are hitting porcelain and my palms remain dry until I pull some contortionist-like moves that should probably get me into the Olympics.  Did no one think about that when the bathrooms were being built or remodeled?  No one has tried the sink out, regardless of the inevitable “Employees Must Wash Hands” sign?  Perhaps I am doing it wrong.  Is there a secret?  If there is a better way, I am but your humble student.
  • Water.  It’s never quite right, is it?  Scalding, freezing… a minor inconvenience I guess.  Most public sinks that I encounter have the all-on-splash-my-shirt setting and the just-above-a-drip setting with not much in between.  I’ll also mention the “oh no I leaned on the counter and it looks like I peed my pants” moment here.  The auto-sinks at Walmart stores feel like there’s a tiny elf with an eyedropper in there just waiting to wash your hands.
  • Foam soap is just terrible.  Quit it already.  I’m over it, and you should be too.  It dissipates so quickly & leaves my hands feeling either not clean at all at best or almost sticky at worst.  The watered-down liquid soap that was used regularly well into the late 90’s and early 00’s is just fine.
  • Technology isn’t your friend.   I’m the last person to run a tirade against technology.  But sometimes, the more there is to it, the more there is to go wrong.
    • The auto-flush toilet was probably the first to appear.  While noble, I have perfected my boot-flush and elbow-flush techniques… so I don’t need it, even if it does work.  Everyone’s heard the tale of someone who was auto-flushed upon amid doing business on the john.  No one wants to be the victim there, right?  Especially of the ones that look like a mini hurricane in a bowl.
    • The Hand Dryer.  I believe the correct ratio is 1 out of every 3 hand dryers (hot or cool) actually functions.  I haven’t done any studies, and I’m not sure if this is the factory QC acceptance level, but it seems about right.  I’m saying 1 out of 5 for the no-button auto kind.  You can quote me on this.
    • The hands-free paper towel dispenser.  Jammed, not working, empty, gives a 3″ square or enough to dry 1 finger… then takes 10 minutes to give you enough for the next finger.  So much here to go wrong.
    • The hands-free soap dispenser.  There’s no soap in it, because it’s all on the floor.  Or, if it’s an in-sink unit, there’s always a bottle of Softsoap or Dial there because the in sink unit is always empty or broken.
    • The hands-free sink.  See my previous comment about elves & eye droppers.  It also helps if the elf isn’t sleeping.
    • Pfft.  The auto your-ass-stinks dispensers make it smell like poop and flowers.  That helps.
    • What’s next?  Someday there will be butt-wiping robots or poo-burning laser beams.  I’d like to go on record now as voting against this.
  • The pee trough.  These are rare nowadays, thank goodness.
  • The Surprise.  Unfortunately you know what I’m talking about.  Stop it, people.
  • The trash can.  Full or overflowing?  Yes.  The in-sink or in-wall ones are a joke.
  • The multi-tasker.  I don’t want to hear you on your phone while you’re pooping.  The person on the other end doesn’t want to talk to you while you’re pooping.  I don’t want to talk to you while I’m pooping.  Phones and pooping do not mix.
  • The dweller.  What’s with people that just hang out in restrooms?  What are you doing besides making me nervous?  If you’re not using the facilities or freshening up… get out.

What did I miss?  I’m sure something in public restrooms annoys you too.  What is it?  Am I wrong with any of the above statements?  Have any horror stories?  Hit me with comments…

The Creepy Mrs. Claus


So, on Friday, we boxed up the fall decorations, took ’em to the basement, and brought up the Christmas decorations. My wife, Bethany, put out most of the smaller decorations that go around the apartment, we’ll probably do the tree and maybe some outside lights by the end of the week.

As I was laying on the couch Friday night while we were watching TV… I felt like I was being watched. I was! There was a creepy set of tiny gnome-like yes staring right through me from the coffee table.

It was a tiny eerie Mrs. Claus salt (or pepper) shaker. It must be a set… no idea where they’re from. Mr’s Claus’ apron actually even looks like it was melted a little at one point in time. Perhaps she was stored in a hot attic, near some warm holiday lights, or near a radiator?

So, I did what any normal person would do (I hope)… and I turned the creepy little thing so it was no longer facing me.

Bethany erupted in a fit of laughter, because I was obviously disturbed by a tiny inanimate object.

Saturday morning, I stepped into the shower stall, and Mrs. Claus was eight there on top of the shampoo dispenser looking right at my naked figure.

Game on. Bethany wins the first round.

Needless to say, Mrs. Claus was all over the house this weekend.

We’ve played this game before with empty toilet paper rolls… because someone refuses to change them when they’re done, and just sets a new roll on the window sill. Not naming anyone here, I’m just sayin’. They’ve ended up in pillowcases, in the freezer, in the car… you name it.

This morning, I used my cell phone to capture an image of the disturbing little holiday figurine, Photobucket to save it, paint.NET to crop it, and then I emailed it to my wife’s Yahoo!, Hotmail, & Work email addresses, and her phone.

Not sure where to go next… but I thought I’d share the creepy Mrs. Claus image, in case you had anyone that you wanted to creep-out.

Maybe I’ll eventually have to get a better photo with the camera. This one’s a little blurry.