Parenting Blog

Rebuilding Our Backyard of Fun Together

Lowes DadTime Bear sanding cornhole board copy

Before we bought our first house, we looked at one house, this house.

One of the reasons we bought the very first house we looked at some 13 years ago was its massive fenced-in backyard. We were still years away from becoming parents but it didn’t take too much in the way of imagination to picture children frolicking back there or to see the Mrs and I kickin’ back on a lazy summer weekend with some meats a-grillin’ as we watch those imaginary future children frolic.

Over the years our fenced-in yard has played host to birthday parties, kid’s concerts, family gatherings, and lazy weekend revelry the kind of which we had envisioned while signing the stacks of papers to make this house our home. Heck, we even built raised bed gardens and for one and a half years had some backyard farm to table vegetables, but the backyard itself never truly became the sanctuary of family outdoor bliss we’d hoped. Over the past few years, thanks to a pretty intense summer travel schedule, we’ve kinda let it go. Not call-the-authorities level of let it go, but it’s got its gnarly overgrown sectors.

This spring, I have set out to change that. This spring we’re rebuilding our backyard of fun together.

My plan started with the firepit I gave my wife for Mother’s Day and continued with the mosquito trap I placed outside last month to spare my bite-magnet ladies from their perennial buggy torture. Now, it is time for the biggest undertaking of my, *cough*, handyman life: homemade cornhole boards to be followed by a treehouse for the kids’ stuffed animals and American Girl dolls.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I asked my wife to join me at Lowe’s this week to shop for the materials needed to build the corn hole game. I’m simply lost in that store alone, and sometimes there’s the cold sweats and manic fingernail biting. She knows me and for my own emotional and physical safety, she came with while the kids were at school because I needed to focus on the task at hand and all they ever want to do is make absurdist short films in Lowe’s window and doors department.

We printed off our list of supplies for a regulation cornhole set and headed straight to Lumber where we met Jose who helped us pick out the correct pressure treated 2×4’s and plywood. Jose proceeded to be my guardian home improvement angel by cutting all the pieces of wood to our specifications (because I don’t own a saw, obviously, and frankly, should never own a saw for the safety of the people living in my home and in my neighborhood). I picked out something called a random orbital sander (which sounds freaking AMAZING — and I’m probably a teensy bit too excited to use it!), some red paint (because these will be Detroit Red Wings cornhole boards!), wingnuts, carriage bolts, a box of deck screws and brought everything home to get ready for when the kids return from school in the afternoon.

It’ll probably comes as no surprise that the stylistic decision making of our cornhole set was my favorite part…okay, after the part where I was allowed to work with the wicked cool orbital sander which, sadly, has nothing to do with gravitational pull or orbiting moons or any of that stuff but was still super rad. Turns out there’s some serious zen-action in using that sander. Now, to find more things to sand!

My girls helped with the sanding too, and the primer, painter’s tape for the rad white triangle, and painting the board a gorgeous Red Wings red. We had a blast on a beautiful afternoon and evening getting this project off the ground after a few days of wind and rain. Next week, we’ll finish the drilling and building of the second 2×4 base, and then we’ll have taken another step toward rebuilding our backyard of fun.

I want to be outside with my girls, watching them find new creative ways to play with the toys they already have by bringing them out into nature, so much so that I dove headfirst into foreign territory: building stuff. With the help of Lowe’s my daughters and I are giving our backyard and our family life two brand new reasons to fling open the kitchen door and be ‘out there’ this summer. And I’m discovering a joy of working with hands in way that doesn’t involve a laptop keyboard of a the glass screen of a smartphone. Good things, all.

I invite you to return to this post and to follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #DadTime. I’m going to be posting more progress on the 2nd cornhole board and the doll tree house as we rebuild our backyard of fun throughout the month.

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Lowe’s for this promotion.

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