Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tips for Building Projects with Kids

Recently, while going through old pictures, I came across this video. I was building an arbor for a grapevine, and my two girls, about 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 years old, were helping. After watching this five times and getting over my uncontrollable weeping, I started reminiscing about the days of working on projects with them when they were cute and extremely unhelpful. Oh for the days when a two hour project would merely take four hours...

As I watched the video, I had several great reminders for tackling projects with kids in tow.

1. Let the kids "help" - You will notice that Little A, who was around 2, didn't care that she wasn't actually doing anything. She wanted to be with daddy, "working" just like I was. A plastic drill and letting her smash away on the lumber while I'm working makes her happy and includes her in the project.

1.1. Let the kids actually "help" if they can - Find something that they can do. At 4, Big E was great at fetching screws, and she enjoyed contributing. As the kids get older, give them more and more responsibility. If my 10-year-old is still doing nothing more than fetching screws, then I haven't let her grow in her responsibility and we're both missing out.

2. Let them experience real tools - Obviously I'm not going to let my four-year-old loose with a circular saw. But letting her become comfortable with and around tools will help both of us in the future. She will want to help me with more and more projects, and I will get free labor quality time with my daughter.

3. Give them the extra help when needed - Big E got to drive a screw with my screwdriver, but there is no way she could have done it on her own. As my kids get older, they need less help from me. But in the learning years, the "training wheels" come in the form of daddy's hand on the back of the screwdriver keeping it going straight.

4. People are more important than things - This is the one thing that I need regular reminders of. At the end of the video Big E drives a screw so deep that the wood splits. "Uh oh... That's okay" was probably forced at the time. Actually, I was so sleep deprived a the time from having two little ones that I was probably in a vegetative state. But remembering that kids are more important than that piece of lumber or that tool will help keep the focus on the important things.

5. Know that we all make mistakes - I don't always have the most patient attitude towards my kids, especially when I'm in the middle of a project. But remembering that these are the memories that they are building helps. I want them to have fond memories of doing projects with me. When I mess that up (read about one such instance here), I need to fix it.

Now that I've spent the past several minutes reminiscing, I think it's time for a current project to work on with my kids. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Chip Drop: Free Mulch for Your Garden (And All Your Neighbors)

Most of the time when I see advertisements in social media posts I ignore them. I don't like the fact that algorithms are able to track my internet usage and come up with what they think I need. And I really hate it when they're right.

Many months ago I started seeing an ad for Chip Drop, a service that connects homeowners with arborists. You offer to take a truckload of wood chips, the arborists get to unload their goods without driving them to the dump, and the environment is happy for both of you. As the ad continued to haunt me in my social media feeds, I could feel my force fields weakening. Unlike the canine hot dog Halloween costume, this was something that I could actually picture myself using.

Mulched garden bed
I have 10 fruit trees and four garden beds in my yard. There is a lot of space between the top of the soil line and the top of the raised bed, so surely I could utilize a load of wood chips as compost/mulch. And with all of those fruit trees, I should definitely be concerned with moisture retention, so a thick layer of mulch is always a good thing. So, late one night, unable to sleep and seeing the ad pop up again, I decided to sign up.