This weekend has been another gorgeous central Florida day. Mid-seventies and not a cloud in the sky. I have crazy bad spring fever right now, and this weather isn’t helping at all! Luckily, I have spring break the week after next, so I’ll get a little taste of summer living soon, but it won’t be enough. I’m ready for summer dresses, flip flops, bathing suits, beach bags, pool floats, and little drinks with umbrellas in them.
This afternoon, we decided to take full advantage of the weather by playing outside in our backyard. During the spring and summer, we live out back. We have a pool and lots of yard toys, so we pretty much wake up, put on bathing suits, and head outside. In the next month or two, Chris is going to be tearing down our back deck (which is horribly warped and falling apart) and building us a new deck that meets our family’s needs a little better. I’ll definitely blog about that process because it has been crazy cool to watching Chris design it. In preparation of that awesomeness that is coming, we decided to clean out our back yard while we were out there today.
As I said, we live outside in the spring and summer, but fall and winter we aren’t really out there too much. That means that our backyard quite literally goes to the dogs, who are the only inhabitants out there. At the first hint of spring every year, we head outback to survey the damage done all winter and set up for another year of summer fun.
The first thing we do is drag all the kids’ outside toys into the yard and clean them off. We scrub them down with dish soap and water, and then spray them all off to get the cobwebs and bugs all cleared away. If the kids weren’t helping, I might put a little bleach in the water to help with that extra clean, but since they are old enough to want to help this year, I skipped this step.
While I was cleaning toys with the kids, Chris tackled the yard. He cut back the trees that hang over our playground area, picked up all the dog droppings, repaired part of the fence that was sagging, raked up leaves, picked up sticks, and then mowed. The grass hasn’t grown well this fall/winter because, quite frankly, we had other stuff going on and just didn’t care. But now that we’ve gotten all the dead leaves and junk off of it, we’ll start watering it regularly again and adding some fertilizer to help it grow. By summer, we’ll hopefully have a nice green cushion under the playground where the kids will be playing.
During our outdoor spring cleaning, we are usually able to salvage most of our big outdoor equipment. We bring most of it into the garage during the cooler months, and that helps. Plus, after a good bath, most of it seems to hold up really well all on it’s own, whether it’s in the garage or not. But, we spend this time accessing what needs to be thrown out, too. This year, we had to finally say goodbye to Bean’s water table. I love that thing, and so do the kids. But it accidentally got left out this fall/winter, and it was pretty rough when I cleaned it out today. Even after a good wash and several rinses, it was still full of residue and crap. Also, Gracie’s birthday is coming up and I hear a certain Nana is might be getting her a new water table of her very own.
We also get rid of any pool and beach toys. These are fairly cheap, and worth the little expense of replacing every year. I tossed out old sand buckets, diving rings, and sand sculptors. I also threw out all of the kids balls. They were mildewy and gross and running out of air anyway. At only $2 or $3, I’ll happily replace those. This year, we tossed a couple beach chairs, too, because they were rusted. We usually only have to replace beach chairs about once every two years or so.
In one short afternoon, our backyard is ready to play again. It is much easier to keep it up on a daily basis while the weather is warmer because we’re out there every day, so this will probably be one of the only all-day yard work days. But it was actually a lot of fun for all of us. The kids were super happy to be outside and use all their toys again. For Gracie, this is the first year she’ll be big enough to use some of these toys. It was great for Chris because we hung out with him while he did yard work, which he usually does by himself. And I was more than happy to clean and refresh while I dreamed about spending mornings at the splash part and nap time by the pool.
Hawaiian Tropic, take me away…
For those who are interested, here are the toys we have in our backyard with my ratings out of 5 stars:
Kids picnic table with umbrella – 4 stars
Little Tikes School Bus Activity Gym – 5 stars
Step2 Arctic Splash Water Table – 5 stars
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe – 3 stars (great except neither of my kids ever figured out how to pedal with their feet!)
Little Tikes Home and Garden Playhouse – 3 stars (my kids may not be old enough yet, but they haven’t been too interested in this one)
Step2 Soccer Goal – 2 stars (kind of flimsy and doesn’t stand up well when you’re playing with it)