I am a very practical person and like things to be easy and convenient. “Do It Yourself” is not my usual forte, so when Tessa suggested this blog topic I agreed with fake enthusiasm. However, inside my mind was screaming NO because I didn’t feel like I could really contribute.
I have friends and neighbors that make Martha Stewart look like an amateur. But rather than steal from them, I decided to dig deep into my memory banks and try to recall all of the fun, kid-friendly, DIY stuff we do right in our own backyard (or driveway). This line of thinking got me to a list of about three things worthy of the Family Footnote Blog. It also propelled me to test out and try some DIY projects that I have considered in the past, but never been brave enough to tackle.
I have to thank my aunt for this easy DIY project. She bought my kids a homemade popsicle tray this past Spring. At first I thought it would be another plastic kitchenware that took up space in my already crowded cupboard. I also should admit that I briefly considered shipping it to the basement to be a toy in the play kitchen, but I showed restraint and a willingness to try it out, mainly at the insistence of my middle child.
Lucky for me, I have a very wise aunt because her gift has helped me and my kids make an easy treat that can also be a healthier snack option. We have made numerous popsicles from fresh-squeezed lemonade (with minimal sugar) and also from Crystal Light packages. I haven’t tried the yogurt or fruit smoothie route yet, but it is on the agenda. My kids really enjoy seeing the whole process of making the drink, pouring it into the tray, placing the stem handles, and then waiting for the freezer to finish the job. These treats have been a big hit in town, because with the tray we always have some to share with our friends and neighbors.
WATER CHALK PAINT
I have no idea why sidewalk chalk plus water is fun, but my kids think it is amazing. I love it from a practical standpoint because it requires zero planning. A sunny day is preferable, but even that is up for negotiation when it comes to implementing this activity. We already have sidewalk chalk a plenty and with this outdoor craft project, you just add some water for more entertainment. My kiddos like to color the cement, deck, tree house, and stone fire-pit with their sidewalk chalk. Then we add H2O via paint brushes to turn their masterpieces into watercolor mosaics. The drips and splashes of water blend the chalks and let them run together. My kids really put the color wheel to the test with this DIY, as they enjoy mixing different chalk pieces to create and blend new colors with their brushes.
Plus if it is hot outside, no one cares if they get wet. This project has turned into a water fight at times, but that is okay as well. When it is warm and humid, I can’t blame my kids for taking a chance and flicking water at each other.
FRESH SQUEEZED PINK (OR PURPLE OR BLUE) LEMONADE
One nice Spring evening we were watching my friend’s children, which made for five kiddos running around our backyard. They were all begging for snacks five minutes after finishing dinner. There was no way any one of them was hungry, so I took the opportunity to put into effect a DIY I had been thinking about trying. My youngest daughter recently found a recipe for fresh squeezed lemonade in one of those ad magazines at our local coffee shop. She is five-years-old and currently wants to be a baker when she grows up, so anything recipe related holds great appeal for her.
My husband was on-hand, so I had him help me quickly find a bunch of old mason jars with caps and lids (Thankfully we are those people who make homemade salsa and applesauce, so this was a very easy task). We then just needed some water, sugar, and lemons. I also got inspired at the last moment and grabbed a small jar of pink sugar crystals that were left over from a past birthday cake making session. (Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to see the full lemonade recipe with measurements.)
All five kids, ages 2-years to 8-years, had fun. They enjoyed squeezing their lemons, throwing the unwanted seeds into the yard, adding water, spooning in sugar, and giving a few shakes of the cake decorating crystals. Jar lids were then screwed on tight and all of the children began jumping and shaking like crazy to “stir up” their lemonade. The liquid swirled in the jar and my recipe addition of cake crystals turned everyone’s drink into pink lemonade, which was a huge hit. I already plan to do this activity again, but next time I will be sure to have different colors of cake decorating crystals on-hand. I think making green, blue, or purple lemonade would be fun to try. The crystals can probably be used en lieu of the sugar (and not in addition to the sugar) because I really don’t think both are needed to sweeten. All of the children got a little sticky, but the backyard entertainment and yummy slurp sounds were worth the mess. We had extra lemonade, which we made into homemade popsicles the next day, so double DIY on my part. Watch out HGTV, here I come!
I have written before about how my family is in the “wheel stage” of life because we have numerous bikes, scooters, tricycles, and roller blades throughout our garage. We live on a non-busy street and our driveway has proven to have the most perfect slant for bike races. We have expanded on our race challenges and started to do obstacle courses with the neighbor kids and local friends.
Sidewalk chalk is again my best friend. We always use it to chart courses on the concrete. We draw in loops, circles, boundaries, etc. that must be followed like a map. We use a stopwatch app on my phone as a timer, and there are always one or two “big kids” on hand to be the judge. The judge tracks the time of each kid contestant and keeps score either with the sidewalk chalk or a small dry erase board we keep in the garage.
This activity is great for boys and girls. The majority of the little guys in my ‘hood could care less about the organization of it all, but they do love the competition factor. The little ladies enjoy the charting of the scores and take the reins when it comes to thinking up different categories for the obstacle courses, such as: speed, accuracy, and creativity.
We typically can do more than one round of the same course, so while one kid might be really fast, he or she may not stick to the chalk
lines as well. The scoring system of 1-10 is not always the most democratic, but I have never had a West Side Story fight go down in my yard. I think this proves that the kids are too busy having fun and not all that worried about who is actually winning.
Another perk is that our neighbor boys get to race with my girls and enjoy that my daughters aren’t trying to hijack the game into a complicated plot of pirates and mermaids. Even the little ones have fun! My toddler gets a lot of laughs as he cruises down the course on his strider, so it really is a win-win each time we do it on our street.
I feel like a complete fraud for including gardening in this blog, because I have zero green thumb skills. My only role in gardening is as the picker. I pick the flowers, I pick the produce, and I pick the weeds. I can’t tell you what is growing out of the ground until I pick it. This type of hobby is just not in my wheelhouse. Enter my husband, who has an over five foot tall tree growing that came from the seed of a lemon slice that was in his ice tea glass at a restaurant over 12 years ago (TRUTH!).
My husband gardens and then tells me his expectations in terms of harvest and weed management. He recently built a raised garden that is pretty outstanding. He took hinged boards from old shipping crates, got out some tools, and voila we have multiple raised garden beds that are set to produce tomatoes, strawberries, and a few other edible items. My kids loved helping him fill the dirt and plant the seeds. The assembly process of constructing the raised beds also kept my two-year-old captivated for several hours.
I had the best Sunday morning of my life a few weeks ago because everyone in my household, sans our Jack Russell Terrier, was wrapped up in this gardening project. I was free to “supervise” from the deck while reading my book and drinking coffee. It was glorious.
We plan to keep DIYing up this particular undertaking by letting the kids paint the boards to further beautify our garden space. Watering the garden is somehow also a fun chore for my husband and kids. (I wish I could decipher a way for my daughters to fight over taking out the garbage! It is crazy how they bicker over getting to operate the water hose!)
Our neighbors have even gotten involved with this DIY because they are taking on their own gardening projects and like discussing the how’s and what’s of it all with each other and my hubby. My next-door neighbor has tried his hand at a hanging garden and across the street my friend is doing a hay bale plot. Gardening is great for green thumbs and kiddos. I find laughter in hearing my husband and neighbors compare their vegetable spaces and discuss different alternatives for keeping the evil rabbits and deer away from their precious produce.
DIY DOES NOT HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED
The simpler the better is a motto I try to live by when it comes to motherhood. So hopefully I have proven that DIY projects do not need to be expensive or complex in order to be fun for the family. Keeping things easy, keeps me a more sane and positive person, which is beneficial to everyone in my household.
How do you DIY? Let us know about your easy or complicated projects by sending an email to email@example.com or posting a comment.