After several weeks of planning and work, we finally have the front yard set up more or less the way we want it. First and foremost, the whole area is fenced in with some part-recycled chain-link fencing that was mostly assembled while I was out taking soil samples last week. Duane and I finished it off a few days ago, meaning that the kids and Kiska can run about there without getting into too much trouble (though kid #4 still prefers to experiment with the front deck door). It turns out that Kiska loves playing with the little Manitoba Hydro flags that were put down when the gas line was marked out, and most of them are already destroyed. I intend to put a trowel or similar implement on permanent standby there for poop-flinging (the yard is right next to a small wooded area) to prevent the kids from trampling it everywhere.
Shortly after this, kid #3 was given the option of going out on a shopping trip for a couple of hours or hanging out with me at home:
Kid #3: I don’t want to go out. I want to stay here.
Dad: If you stay here this morning, what will you do?
Kid #3: Um…spank my bum!
In addition to an escape-proof running-around area, the kids also have an enormous play structure to spend time on. Rita and Duane ordered it a few weeks ago, and I assembled it (with a couple of calls to the manufacturer to check instruction and re-order a broken piece of wood) when not doing more pressing things. A delivery truck dropped off 500 lb of components (which Duane then had to go and collect with a tractor), and I set about digesting the 50-page manual for a Big Backyard Sheridan system (interestingly, the French instructions are markedly different from the English ones). Having lugged the boxes out to the front deck, I wrestled with slightly misaligned pre-drilled holes and the perils of dropped screws (which went through the desk to get stuck in the mosquito netting underneath) and eventually got most of the single-person jobs done. I then enlisted the help of others to hold things in place while I drilled and bolted them, and the whole thing came together remarkably quickly.
Kid #4 is still a little too small to use the structure by himself, but kid #3 threw herself on it and spent almost a whole afternoon running up the ladder and going down the slide. Kiska quickly realised that she couldn’t get to the upper storey, and took to waiting at the bottom to pounce on the kids as they tumbled out of the bottom. The kids also love the two-child glider swing, and quickly invented a new game where they lean backwards to bump heads (which can only end in minor injury). As testament to the hours put in building it, the family have decided to refer to it as the Tower of John, and Amy and I are expected to bring our own kids to play on it someday.
As we went inside for supper, kid #3 wanted to change her footwear:
Kids #3: I want to wear my car shoes! (translation: indoor slippers)
Me: OK, then you have to take off your sandals.
Kid #3: Why? I want to wear sandals!
Me: You can’t wear sandals and shoes at the same time, unless one of them is really big. Do you want to wear sandals or shoes?
Kid #3: Shandals!