The Unplanned Patio

Here is what you need to know about my life right now.

Small Town, USA has been smack in the middle of the Rain Belt, so we’ve gotten approximately twenty-six feet of moisture so far this month.  We were the smart ones who built our house on the hill, because flood insurance is nothing but a game of Russian Roulette.  We’ve always sat upon our hill in the rainy season and sighed with relief because our basement didn’t leak, and none of the outdoor toys scattered in our yard, that make us look like a shoddy daycare center, were floating in a lake of water.

And then last week… our basement had the audacity to LEAK.  Apparently this last week of ALL THE RAIN didn’t discriminate between houses on hills and houses in valleys that were built three inches away from the river.  The good news is that the leak was in the back of our basement, where we have Sheetrock on the walls and concrete floors, because that’s where we hoard our boxes of stuff we never use, but which we are unable to part with, because MAYBE we’ll use it someday.

For the record, SOMEDAY hasn’t happened in the last seven years.

So, apart from some completely ruined Sheetrock that will need to be ripped off the wall, because BLACK MOLD HAZARD THAT FREAKS ME OUT, and the small fact that THE ONLY box that got wet was the one holding the boy’s baby pictures (Not a joke.), we didn’t suffer much more than a half-inch of water over a ten-foot section of concrete floor.  Our old, 1984 box fan stepped up its game to become the star of 2015, as it ran nonstop for a couple of days and dried everything out like a total champ.  Hubs and I gave that elderly box fan the MVP OF THE RAINY SEASON trophy.

On Saturday, Hubs decided that we needed to use the tractor to dig around in the backyard, because he felt that the ground was lower next to the house and higher on the far edge.  This is something that makes my brain cramp up — the whole discussion of degrees of levelness and grades and the slope of dirt.  When Hubs starts talking about falls and gradients with drainage, I need to just lie down with a cold washcloth on my head and call my mama to come pat me on the back.  Fortunately, Hubs understands dirt, and how to build dirt up so that rainwater is diverted to the ocean, so he and his friend, Greg, started digging on Saturday morning.

They started digging a very small bit of ground right next to the house, which was going to be restructured with sand and gravel and Hubs’ head knowledge on basic slopes and surface water drainage.  The whole thing was supposed to be done and finished, with Hubs back on the deck, drinking a cold Coke over ice, in two hours.

Thirty minutes into the project, Hubs had decided that WHAT WE REALLY NEED IS A BRAND NEW PATIO IN OUR BACKYARD.  I’m all for it, because nothing beats sitting on your patio with a hot cup of chai tea in the early mornings, but our checkbook kind of gasped and lost its pulse for a while, because WE HAD NEVER DISCUSSED A BACKYARD PATIO.  It was, in fact, not included in the Grand Master Plan of the Backyard Renovation Project.

And by the checkbook losing its pulse for a while, I really mean that it actually flat-lined and was pronounced dead.

No matter.

Ten hours later, the project was still in full swing, and now we have real concrete guys bidding against one another for the sheer pleasure of taking our money in exchange for a backyard patio… and a non-leaking basement wall.

Hubs and I will probably have to sell both of our firstborn birthrights and put our sons into indentured servanthood to the concrete fellows, but we’re going to have a new patio in the backyard.

The backyard that has NEVER been touched since we built our house.

The backyard that makes us look like we live in a van, down by the river.

The backyard where the edge grass grows so tall, you could hide a rhinoceros from the neighbors for six weeks.

I daresay that ALL of my boys were completely on board with MISSION PATIO ’15, judging by the happiness they all had at using Greg’s Kubota tractor.  The fact that the boy said, “Mom, I’d really like to drop out of school now and just drive a backhoe for a living,” was another clue that he enjoyed the entire process of prepping the ground for future concrete.  It was a statement that made me so proud, because NO COLLEGE TUITION EVER.  Thing 2 told me that I could use my TEN MONEY (a dime, people) to buy a tractor of our own, that could be kept in our garage forever and ever, and used daily by him and my baby daddy.

(“Mommy, use your ten money and buy a tractor for me!”)

(I wish my ten money stretched further than it really does.)

IMG_3482 IMG_3484 IMG_3486 IMG_3493 IMG_3510The boy may only be fourteen years old, but he wasted no time at all informing me that he can back a tractor with a bucket and a backhoe on it better than I can back a Smart Car.

IMG_3513 IMG_3524 IMG_3525 IMG_3541 IMG_3555Hubs and I also believe that it’s NEVER too early to start your children on manual labor.

Shoveling dirt all afternoon makes them sleep REAL GOOD!


Do you know what every girl dreams about, when she’s thinking about a future husband and a home of their own?  Well, it’s a pile of dirt in the backyard.  I’m pretty sure that we all pin giant piles of dirt on Pinterest, under the heading, MY DREAM HOME.

But… I know a little boy who REALLY DOES consider a giant pile of dirt in his backyard to be nothing short of WHAT HEAVEN WILL BE LIKE.  Thing 2 played in that dirt with pure toddler joy.

(FYI.  His feet were black at the day’s end, because Keen sandals let a lot of dirt in.)

IMG_3559 IMG_3569 IMG_3572 IMG_3576 IMG_3579When the big boys had to ban Thing 2 from the construction site, so that they could really dig in and get after things without the threat of a toddler running in front of the Kubota, he came inside with Greg’s little boy, Gavin.  The two of them had a ball during their impromptu playdate, until our ferocious Cat 1 pulled the brake cord and clawed the holy snot out of Gavin’s leg when he ran by her.


I’m the mother who had to send Gavin home to his mama with wounds obtained in a fight against a feral animal who passes as a house pet.

But… seriously?  How cute are these two together?  I’m asking Jesus to keep Captain America and Dodgeball Darth Vader good buddies for their entire lives!

IMG_3587 IMG_3588Later in the weekend, the boy rounded up his own posse of friends, so that they could go see the new Jurassic Park movie.  They came home with enormous grins, and declared it one of the best movies of the decade, because they’re professional movie critics.

Sadly, they always give four THUMBS DOWN to great films like The Notebook and Steel Magnolias, claiming that there are no guns or guts in either of those films, and no one is eaten by a seven-ton reptile.

After the movie, the troop came over to our house for a very unhealthy dinner of teenage junk food, and then they spent the rest of the night running around outside, shooting one another with air soft guns and risking a phone call to the police about the neighborhood noise disturbance.

And then they all played video games and fell asleep on my family room floor, while I said things like, “Let’s not mess the house up too badly,” seeing as how Mam had been over all day, claiming that she was bored and we should just do my floors.


I feel sad that other folks don’t have mamas who get bored like mine does!

IMG_3592And that’s kind of what we’ve been up to lately.

Other than celebrating summer vacation by smiling a whole lot, when we realize that we can stay in our pajamas until the afternoon hours, if that’s what we choose to do.

Happy Tuesday, people.  Happy Tuesday!

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