What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails
and puppy dog tails
That's what little boys are made of.
or in Gavin's case, he seems to be made of...
tractors and loaders
and giant bulldozers.
These are the sights seen in our sand-box on any given evening. The sand-box is perfectly shaded in the hot summer months and during the middle of the day and is filled with warm sunlight in the fall and the cooler evenings. This sand box is a life saver. It is Gavin's favorite place to be, hands down. Our sand-box happened sort of accidentally at first. When we were building our house back in 2007, we came 'home' one day to find a big pile of sand right in the middle of what was at the time, the driveway, but is now the front yard. We didn't think too much of it. We had lots of friends and acquaintances working on our house and materials and equipment and parts were being delivered or dropped off all the time. We also had a friend in the landscaping business who was temporarily storing his job trailer in our yard. We assumed the sand was for something or somebody. After a few days, we started asking... we asked our builder, our excavator, our landscaper friend... no one knew anything about the sand. We left it where it was for a few weeks, assuming it would be claimed, but it wasn't. We finally decided to move it out of the 'driveway' and out of the way. So, we moved the pile to an inconspicuous spot on the edge of the yard, next to the woods, right next to the old outhouse that was attached to the end of the shed. (you can see the bit of sand that is left of the pile, between the little red outhouse in the background and the cedar post in the foreground in the picture below. It's next to an old iron headboard).
For two years, the sand pile sat there next to the outhouse. Weeds started growing out of the top of it. When Gavin was a little over a year old, he started playing on the sand pile, but it was on the hot and sunny south side of the shed and outhouse and was also right next to the woods, where the wild things are. : )
I started dreaming about a nice canopy-covered sandbox for Gavin and started looking at them in catalogs and online. It wasn't too long before I realized that we had a built-in canopy already - below our screen porch. It was a shaded space, with plenty of room to move around, but because there were basement windows under there, we didn't want to build anything under the porch that would block the view out the basement windows. The porch is roughly 10' x 12', so the space under the porch is about the same size. We didn't want to put the sandbox right up next to the house because that would mean that Gavin would be playing alongside the glass basement windows and we'd run the risk of the windows breaking, etc.
For Mothers' day in 2010 (Gavin was one and a half), Cliff offered to tackle three projects that I'd been sweetly reminding him about for a few months... the projects were: build a sand-box, move the old iron clothesline posts from the front yard to the back yard, and build a raised strawberry bed. He was a little aggressive with the to-do list. That was way too much to get done in a weekend, much less in one day. So we started with one project and ended up completing two of them that summer. Still no raised strawberry bed, but the sand-box was so, so worth the strawberries that I would have enjoyed this year from my raised bed.
We dug a 2" trench around the perimeter of what would become the sand-box. We then picked up some 2" x 12"s and built a frame around the outside half of the space under the porch, so the sandbox would be about 6' x 10'. The 2" x 12" boards were sunk 2" down in the ground so that the frame was about 10" tall. Then we started shoveling and hauling sand wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow from the sand pile next to the outhouse to the new sand-box. Use of the new sand-box was a little slow at first. Now, we can barely keep Gavin out of it. The minute we get home from someplace, he gets out of the car and runs around the side of the house to his sand-box. As soon as we go outside, he darts to the sand-box like a frog to water! The kid LIVES in that sand-box. Since it's right under the screen porch, I can open the doors from the house to the porch and be able to hear him playing and check on him verbally without being right out there all the time. If I poke my head out our side-door off the dining room, I can see the sandbox and I can call him in for dinner.
The boy digs, pushes, piles, shovels and hauls sand with his dozers, dump trucks, tractors, wheelbarrows and loaders and would do it all day long if we let him.
We have seen the return on our investment in this project a hundred-fold.
...and you can't beat the view from the sandbox on a early fall evening!