WITH a slight pang of guilt towards my second child - because Emma really did have fun playing on it - I sold our Little Tykes slide and playcube with the intention of making a more natural play space.
It started last year with a sandpit that I built myself out of 2x4s. It was a little too shallow, so this year my Dad and Emma added a second layer of depth and a storage box/seat in one corner.
Two of our dogwoods have not fared well in the long drought we've been suffering here in the southern US. In a fit of manly fervour, Thomas attacked them with a chainsaw, resulting in several logs and lots of smaller blocks cut in different sizes. He took the opportunity to also massacre my poor wisteria, which he has always hated due to the tendency of its tendrills to take over a small city in a matter of weeks. The dogwood and wisteria stumps now 'live' on in a circular obstacle course Emma and I created in the small wooded area at the back of our garden, and also serve as superb hidey-holes for insects of all shapes and sizes.
A seesaw and balance beam were easily created from scraps of wood, and the 6+ minimum age on the box in no way deters Emma from scaling the rope ladder we mounted against a tree for extra stability. But the piece de resistance is a work in progress; the speed of its build-out depending on fallen branches gathered in the garden and purloined from the woods behind the house. Emma has yet to share my vision - she looks at me with one brow raised whenever I mention "the fort" ("Fort?? Call that a fort?" I hear her thinking), but Basil appreciates my efforts to gather sticks for him and occasionally manages to free one of my carefully woven wall pieces to sharpen his teeth.