Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just A Day at the Beach (Sort Of)

A while back we decided we wanted to have a sandbox for Bert to play in.  Of course, us being who we are, we weren’t going to spend $100 on a sandbox.  But, just because Bert’s parents are cheap doesn’t mean he can’t have nice things.  So, we decided that we would build a sandbox out of an old tractor tire; no shortage of those at the farm.  Honestly, I’m sure Tara’s mom would have been overjoyed to have one less lying around up there.

So that was the plan, until one Sunday a few weeks ago when we happened to be driving by a flea market and Tara spotted one of those green plastic turtle sandboxes – for only $5.  Tara already told you that story.  She’s got eyes like a hawk! (And her hearing isn’t too shabby either – Bert’s gonna have a heck of time trying to get away with stuff as he gets older). 

A few weekends ago, during some unseasonably warm yet wonderful weather, we decided to set up the sandbox.  But, I got to thinking (imagine that!).  Putting the turtle on the concrete patio would be asking for trouble if Bert fell.  On the other hand, just putting the turtle in the grass meant I would have to weed whack around it and possibly damage the plastic (and get thoroughly annoyed every time I had to cut the grass).  So, what to do?

I had some old 4x4” wooden boards that I found on a scrap pile a while back (of course – what else would you expect from us?).  And, Tara was getting tired of having them lie around the garage so I thought building a platform for the sandbox would be a great way to use them up.  See honey? I told you they would come in handy.

I started by having Bert measure the 4x4’s.  He mostly wanted to chew on the pencil.

I screwed them together to form a square.  Easy enough. 

We didn’t want the sandbox to be too high off the grass so I decided that it would be best if the 4x4’s sat down in the ground a few inches.  Low enough to just poke above the grass but high enough that I can easily weed whack around them.

Next issue; finding a way to keep the lid on.  Over the years I have seen a number of people place heavy objects on the lid to hold it down: bricks, cinder blocks, etc.  In every case, the lid collapsed and sometimes even cracked apart.  And, it always looked bad.  With that in mind, I decided bungee straps were the way to go.  I screwed holes into each of the turtle’s “feet” and affixed an eye bolt to each one.  That way, the bungee straps hook to the eye bolts and hold the lid tight against the bottom of the turtle (and you barely notice them which is the best part).

We leveled out the ground and laid down some newspaper to keep the weeds from growing.  I have to say, laying the newspaper on a breezy day proved to be the most frustrating part of the entire project.  Of course, Bert seemed to enjoy it.

Speaking of Bert, he just couldn’t wait to start playing in his sandbox.  Although, probably best to wait for the sand, huh?!

Bert tried to help put the sand in but the 50 pound bags proved too much for his little arms.  I guess we’ll let it slide for now, considering each bag weighs more than double his total mass.  So, he did the clean up work instead.

Once the sand was in the box, Bert dove right in.  We’re pretty sure he ate most of the sand in the box.  It was a little low when he was finished playing.  But, he seemed to enjoy himself.  He’s not ready to start building castles yet but we’re working on it.  We’ve got a lot of nice weather ahead of us.

The last thing we need to do is create some type of shade so our fair skinned child doesn’t shrivel up in the hot summer sun.  We’re not sure how to accomplish that.  We’ve gone through a number of ideas but none seem to be the right fit.  So, we’re open to suggestions!

By the way, did you notice our lovely grass?  Nice and brown isn’t it?  That’s our Zoysia grass.  It always takes forever to green up in the spring and by the end of September, it’s right back to brown.  The strange thing is, for whatever reason, only half our yard is Zoysia grass.  The other half is some other variety that is always green.  Throw in some low-lying spots that I filled in with topsoil and new grass seed (not of the Zoysia variety) and our yard is a patchwork of colors.  We’re pretty sure our neighbor hates it (we do too).  But, it’s not going anywhere – I’m not ripping it all out.  It’s just grass.

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