Apparently I've been so embarrassed about the state of our backyard that in the 6 years we've lived in our house, I can't seem to find a picture that showed our backyard in its entirety. Maybe embarrassed is the wrong word. For the first few years we lived here, we didn't use our backyard that much. We had the occasional bonfire and we grilled out, eating our hamburgers or chicken on lawn chairs.
Once Cate became big enough to use the backyard, my pictures seem to be selective in what they actually showed. In the pictures below, you can kind of see the old red brick patio. It was full of weeds that would pop through every spring. We'd spray weed killer and pull them up, but they'd come back. To truly rid ourselves of the weeds would've required pulling up the bricks to dig out the weed roots. We never felt the urge to do that. You can also see a lot of backyard overgrowth in this picture from Cate's first fourth of July: And when Cate turned two, we bought a cheap $150 metal swingset for her to enjoy:
It was a piece of junk though. Not terribly sturdy and not much for her to play on.
Anyway, we've always liked our backyard. We just haven't loved it. We never put much time into making it pretty because we weren't sure how long we'd be here to enjoy it. Remember, this was supposed to be a five year house. Or a forever house sans kids (because there was a period of time in our marriage where kids weren't on the agenda). But we ended up having kids before we were here five years, the real estate market went to $%@&, and here we are now-- almost six years (6 in August) into our house and more in love with it now than when we bought it. We refinanced, committed to at least 5 more years in this house (we'll re-evaluate then and decide if we're moving toward an addition or a new house), and we're doing a bit of sprucing up around here.
We started with the backyard. Since Eric will be home with our kiddos and I'm home with them every summer, it seemed the logical place to start. While we have parks and playgrounds close by, there are days where even loading up the stroller with some diapers and water bottles and then walking 4 blocks to the park seems to take too much effort. So we ditched the crappy swingset and put in one of these: Eric pulled up the old red bricks and put in a beautiful new patio. It's not quite done (we have a few paver stones he needs to cut in half to put on one side), but it's like 90% there and done enough to be able to enjoy it. We've been dining al fresco a lot lately. The furniture we now have on the patio was my parents' old set. They had it for 25 years (cushions are new though). It's iron and it's sturdy and we love it. Sidenote-- we didn't have cushions on two of the chairs when I took this photo, which is why the kids' pool floats are there. And the little playhouse and pool have been moved elsewhere. The bonfire pit is just out of the picture. If you "zoom out" in your mind, it's in the top right corner.
Eric and my dad also cut back a lot of the overgrowth in our backyard and enlarged our fire pit. We had our first bonfire last Friday with some friends. It was actually cool enough that night to justify a bonfire.
Cate was all about the bonfire and keeps asking when we'll build another. She pulled her kid-size lawn chair right up to it and sat and watched it for awhile. Brennan just got loved on by my awesome friend, Emily. Eric bought giant marshmallows at the store...
...and we made s'mores as big as our faces.
So with the new patio, the new swingset, plus our old favorites (the pool, the house, the bonfire pit, and the sand/water table), our backyard is now a place we really want to be. We don't have to load up diapers and water bottles just to go swing or slide (though we still walk to the park often). I love that I have the freedom to run inside and grab something if I need to do so. I also love that since our kitchen looks out over the backyard, Cate can play out there by herself while I make lunch or dinner. The other day I ran in to grab some water. Brennan was secure in his baby swing and Cate was playing on the swingset too. I came outside to find this sweet moment, which I managed to capture the first part of without Cate's knowledge.
I just love how Brennan is smiling at his big sis when she gives him a little push.
Welcome to our new outside space, friends. You're all invited anytime to cookout, hangout, and enjoy the sun (it's sunny back there from about 10am-2pm) or the shade (from sunrise until about 10am and again from 2pm until the sun goes down).