Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ducks and Trucks (Guk! and Guk!)

Hello Again! Well, as much as it might have seemed like it some days, our lives haven't been totally consumed by work on the playground. We did get a chance to hop over to the Lawrencetown Exhibition and check out some animals and tractors and such. Plus (for the Moms) eat some delicious home-made fudge. Griffin and I went with Ambre, Ella and Morgan, and had a great time. He's got quite a few animal noises that he likes to make now, so he had a great time trying them out on all the animals. One of his favourites was this little duck.

How much do I want a pond?!? Another favourite was the John Deere booth, where he actually got to sit on a tractor (or "GUK!!!!!" as he calls anything with wheels on it.)

He kept screaming "GUK!" in the Quilt barn, and I couldn't figure out why, until I saw him pointing frantically at this quilt. If a certain Grandmother, who is also an expert quilter, happened to be wondering what kind of quilt her Grandson would like for a present, wonder no more!

The two of them were having so much fun they didn't even nap. Our down time was spent at the Family Matters nursing and changing station, which also featured a crayon table.

While they coloured, we watched the "Kids and Pets" competition, and "Little Mr. Cowboy." This was the first year I had made it to "the Ex" as they call it around here, but it definitely won't be the last!
Then this weekend, we went to Halifax for a little visit, and on the way back we stopped in at Hennigar's Farm Market. And for the first time we actually took the time to explore the grounds a little. And we were both so glad that we did! Not only did we get some amazing produce, but we saw goats, and baby bunnies, and ducks with their ducklings.

We played on their sandbox boat, which is much larger than I expect ours will be, but was definitely neat to see. And Griffin got to try out the Tricycle track, sponsored by his favourite tractor company.

I took some more pictures, but I thought I would post them over on the Lauren Kaye Photography site, if anyone wants to see them. It was definitely worth the stop, and made the trip home seem like a walk in the park!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Natural Playground, Part Three - Construction!

Hello! It's been such a crazy busy week around here, I haven't had a chance to do daily updates on our natural playground progress, like I wanted to. So now you get to see it all in one go, like Magic! When last I wrote, it had all been staked out, but no ground was broken. The first thing the guys did was to start lifting the sod.

Once they had gotten a fair amount of that done, within a couple of hours, they had all sorts of machines running at once.

Building the hill

And digging the trench for the path.

The fabric got laid down, and they were already ready to put in the sand!

We made our walking posts with old telephone poles, and they started to dump gravel into the pathways.

They spread the gravel out nicely, and lined the path with the boulders we had brought in. It was starting to look very nice.

That night after they left, though, we went on the path and realized that the gravel we had been using was going to be totally unsuitable. It packed down into an almost solid, pointy death-trap road. It was the kind of gravel they put under asphalt.
I woke up at one in the morning that night, from a nightmare about kids getting hurt in the playground, and tossed and turned all night long about what to do. I came downstairs at three in the morning to do some internet research, and learned that what we really needed was pea gravel. Then I spent the rest of the long, restless night, fretting about how I was going to tell these guys that they had to take up all the work they had done so far, remove that gravel, and somehow replace it with pea gravel. After, of course, we somehow found someone who would be willing to donate that much pea gravel to us for free. So that sucked.
They all took it really well, though, and figured it out. Later that morning, the old gravel was coming up (the top couple of inches, anyway) and the new gravel was going in.

We couldn't have asked for a better crew! (Thanks Brian!) It took a few days to get the gravel fixed up and the boulder edging in place. But before I knew it the woodchips were going in, and it was really starting to come together.

The hill got sod, and a sprinkler, and "Keep off the grass" signs.

And then it was just plugging away at putting the boulders in place. That was a lot of rock to lift! We had some helpers - Monica and Ross did a shift, and Jai and I fit in a little bit of time - but still that was probably the most time-consuming part.

Once the woodchips were in place, our big boulders could be delivered,

The log edging could be placed,

And our cut-log bridges could be built.

And that's where we're at as of this afternoon. The whole thing is almost done! There are still some finishing touches to go in - the hill slide will need to be dug into the hill, we will need to build some benches, and put in the big granite stepping stones (old stairs from Town Hall) and the "house of logs." The boat that we had was just too rotten to put in, so we still need to source out an old wooden dory to bury in the sand pit. The crew is done now, though, and we'll be on our own for those finishing touches. Hopefully we can get everything in place in time for the Grand Opening Sept. 18th! The kids just had to demonstrate that it's already fun:

Griffin and I were down there this morning, so I could plant some ferns in the fern circle, and by the time I was halfway done, there were five other kids, and three other parents all gathered around the sand pit. It's definitely something that this community needed. I'm still amazed at how quickly everything has been coming together. Everyone we have approached so far about donating time or materials has been completely supportive and happy to help. I'm a little awestruck about the whole thing. What can I say? Hopefully documenting it all here will inspire someone else to think about doing a natural playground in their community, or even a small version in their own back yard. Go for it - it's totally do-able, and totally rewarding!
That's it for now - I'll keep you updated as we progress towards completion. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Natural Playground, Ahoy! (Part 2!)

Hello! Wow, it's been a Crazy week around these parts, with a Capitol "C"!!!! So my little idea for a natural playground in the park behind our house, which started out as a tiny little sketch on a scrap of paper, has blossomed, and almost grown fruit already. Turns out one person really can get a lot done all on their own, but ten people... ten people, well. Here's a bigger drawing of the basic outline:

As soon as the idea was put out there into the realm of possibility, people began to really get behind it. Our friend Lloyd managed to get ACL Construction to donate the use of all their big machines (backhoes and such) and the ACL guy, Colin, managed to get Tim Rice of Rice's Contracting to donate all the gravel that we need. Lloyd's company is donating all the boulders we need. A fellow who's wife I met down in the park during the kid's camp, Linda and Paul Joudrey, are donating the use of their logging and milling equipment, and the lumber. Public Works is donating the woodchips (I think - gotta go check them out this afternoon) and Club 400 might be donating the slide. And the whole thing starts Monday. Yes, this Monday! Whew - I can hardly believe it!

Ambre, Monica and I went down yesterday with the chalk machine from the ball park (you can see the trail from our house in the photo at the top - oops!), and a bunch of string, and chalked out all the lines (an adventure in itself - the three of us, with five children under five between us - kids and string and chalk?!?! but we did it - somehow!) Colin sent some guys down last night to stake it all out, with lovely colour-coded stakes. Town Council rushed it through, with some help from the CAO and the Town Rec Co-ordinator. And that's where we're at. How exciting is that?!??!

Griffin and I spent almost the entire day down in the park yesterday. And our evening culminated in a lovely concert put on for free by the Concert Band of 14 Wing, Greenwood. It was just lovely - Griffin had a great time listening, and dancing, and clapping, and racing for the stairs.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Gang's All Here

Hello again! So, I haven't totally been avoiding making new pieces, and thought I should share the latest one. It's the biggest one yet, both in terms of number of people, and in size. I had a lot of challenges with this piece, but finally hit on the right combination of driftwood, after Griffin and I took one last trip to the beach to see what we could find.

And there you have it. I know I've said it before, but these pieces are just so much fun to make. And the Gallery keeps telling me that they're getting an excellent reception, which at this point is really just a bonus (but a darn good one!) More to come soon, I hope.

And in the meantime, we've been having yet another Long Weekend, thanks to Jai's saved up overtime, and once again we've spent almost the whole thing being very social little butterflies, which is just super fun. Summer's such a social season here, after everyone kind of hibernates through the winter (unless you happen to hang out at the local Curling Club, that is!) And at the end of every weekend, I think we could have gotten so much more done, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Summer in the City

Hello Again! I can't believe it's been a week already - we're already into August! We had an excellent August long weekend - we drove down to Halifax to spend it in the Big City, with my parents. And normally when we go to the city, I have a list of things I want to get done that can only happen in the city (a list of places I need to shop, in other words!) but this time there was no list. Instead, we spent more time visiting, and did all sorts of fun, free activities. We hung out at the new library that was put in about two blocks away from my parent's house. It had a gorgeous kids section, and Griffin had a blast in there. It made me really wish for our new library to hurry up and get finished already (drywall went in on Tuesday!)

And we spent tons of time at the beach. My parents live about fifteen minutes away from Rainbow Haven beach. It's beautiful and sandy and warm-ish (the water on the Atalantic side is a lot warmer than the Bay of Fundy side!) And it was FILLED with other kids doing the kinds of things kids do at the beach... sand castles, buckets, holes, waves... oh, Summer!

Sand is just SO FUN!

We went back to the beach a couple of times, but I found myself thinking I'd probably be there every day, if it was fifteen minutes away (instead of two hours!)

We also hung out at the playground by my parent's house, and Griffin went down the slide by himself for the first time. And there was a big family bbq to top it all off. Seriously big - I bet there were at least thirty people there - Errol's family is huge! And the whole three-and-a-half days we didn't spend a dime. Of course, it helps to have some generous family members to stay with. They even picked up some things for Griffin - a brand new (and very stylish) hat:

And some awesome new go-fasters, to maybe encourage him to take those first couple of steps. Modelled here by Paddington Bear:

All in all, it was an excellent weekend!