The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Back yard

I love where I live but it is a far different kind of house and setting than the one in which I grew up. My Northern California house doesn’t have a front yard. It has a redwood fence and 12 steps that lead to a small deck and the front door.

For an East Coast born and bred girl this is weird. Odder is the back yard. It’s about a quarter of an acre of sheer drop. One has to walk down it sideways -- as if trekking with a sherpa -- not to fall.

Growing up we had a decent sized front yard and a back yard with a deck that led to a pool, plenty of area to run, and a stone wall.

But at my current house, for seven years the children’s backyard has been our rear deck. They rode their tricycles, bicycles, scooters, and skates on it. I’d stare at the breathtaking view of Mt. Tam, but look below at the unused slope and wish it were flat so that the kids could play in nature rather than on a wood platform anchored by stilts.

My husband is given to occasional bouts of spontaneity. His latest? He wanted to put a small vineyard in the backyard. Deep holes were drilled, soil samples taken and grapes were to be decided upon.

I thought this would be a good hobby for him, and an excellent time to press my case for a play area for the kids. John caved.

Before he changed his mind, I quickly hired someone to flatten the back, create a giant rectangle, outline it in wood, and fill it with dirt and wood chips. We call this the Activities Area.

Toys R Us was having a sale on enclosed 8’ trampolines so we bought one. If I had practiced my kegals, as my gynecologist suggested after having my daughter, I might even be able to use it. But after one “accident,” I’ve learned there are other, less spillful ways to exercise. But the kids have no problems with it.

Beside it we set up a croquet area, only we re-figured it to resemble home-made mini-golf festooned with differing themes at each station. Jay absolutely insists on following the rules and Mimi absolutely insists on cheating. So we don’t play croquet as much as I had hoped. But the space is interchangeable and within moments we can set up a volleyball or badminton net. We even have inflatable cactus that you can limbo under. Mimi and I also got matching pink baseball mitts and play toss with a pink ball. Girl power!

To save money, our landscaper created “steps” in the dirt and a couple of paths for the kids to run on. To make them fun, I embedded their baby and childhood toys along the dirt trails. A Baby Einstein giraffe; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Little Pet Shop animals, Transformers. . . it’s like watching their childhood toy chests open up year after year.

Under three separate trees we created seating areas. A flat sitting spot for adults with comfy, worn chairs. Since I’m not a gardener, but wanted a spray of color, I sprinkled rows of scented and dried flowers and created an aromatherapy “garden” that never needs tending.

Across is a flat tree shaded sitting area for the children. A large cow complete with red udder that I had an artist create for me years ago is where toys are placed at the end of each day. And behind it is a large, shady tree on a small hill. This is the kids’ favorite spot because they can throw things from it. Trucks, Barbie dolls, croquet mallets.

We even have a dry creek bed at the bottom of the property that I only recently discovered when a friend inspected our land. Really? I never dared to venture that far. But now a tent is there and that’s the children’s “secret” hiding place. They don’t know it, but I can see them from where I sit and write. Don’t tell.

I also bought a Tiki Bar. It is the first thing you see when you walk down the back stairs to the Activities Area. When friends come; it is stocked with wine, Mojitos, Marguerites. And for the kids, fizzy water and juice.

Finally, we have a backyard. And not just any one but a yard that is fun, handmade and sprinkled with memories. Here the kids and their friends can expend energy and be creative while playing in nature

We rarely use the upstairs deck anymore.

By Dawn Yun


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