It has become an annual ritual of sorts for me to keep a record, each summer, of things for which I am grateful--a gratitude journal, I guess. In an effort to stay positive amid the insanity, I count my blessings and then get on with wrangling the chaos.
Today I am grateful for my backyard. It's absolutely a summertime staple for my boys and for me, as well. It may be strewn with dog poop (wait, we don't have a dog!), and it may have a trashy layer of soda cans and plastic toys lying about, but here is the good news: it's big, it's shady, it's green, and it's fully fenced. As all moms of special kids know, the fully-fenced yard is a gateway drug which leads to compulsive feelings of peace and addictive sensations of hope that one can go the bathroom and still find the children playing in the yard upon your return.
Our backyard is scruffy and a bit ragged at the edges since Jack mauled and incapacitated our weed-whacker. The deck looks worse for wear since the day Charlie and one of his pals excitedly tore off the lattice which covered the posts below the deck (punk toddlers). Our barbeque grill looks like it survived Vietnam. In reality, it is has thus far survived a boy who is prone to wheeling it all over the place, sometimes knocking it over in the process. The handle is long gone, which merely adds to the ghetto aesthetic.
I do not claim that this backyard it is a showplace. But it's pretty ideal for sensory outdoor playtime. We've got grass, gravel, trees, shrubs, swings, dirt, tetherball, slides, tire swings, dump trucks, a sandbox, a kid-sized excavator, a hose, a trampoline, a playset, a frog pool for filling and splashing, at least a dozen balls, and a window-well for throwing things in (Jack's cache of treasures).
Last fall we picked up a few sturdy and decent-looking chairs on clearance, so now we also have a comfortable place to sit. This is a good thing, as my tush is parked here for the duration of the summer.