The day after the backyard was finished we had Hyrum's birthday party (it was a crazy week of sharing time, teaching preschool, pinewood derby, in-laws visiting, Derek conducting at a baptism and culminating with a party for Hyrum...oh and mothers day). I thought this was the year he'd want a Star Wars party but after debating between Star Wars, Transformers and Spider-man he decided on Spider-man. We got right to work decorating with blue and red spiderwebs.

We'd invited 7 of Hyrum's friends over and he could not wait. We asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he said a piñata so we knew that would be part of the festivities. Luckily for us we were looking for his party fare the week of Cinco de Mayo so we were able to get a piñata for a great deal. Unfortunately we couldn't find a Spider-man one and had to get a Superman ended up being a super hero party in the end.

The festivities began with the Master of Ceremonies ( my amazing husband ) calling all the kids onto the foam squares for "Pin the spider on the web" which I only got pictures of after the fact.

Then we were off to web the bad guys! I found pictures of the Spider-man bad guys Hyrum knew and taped them to balloons we hung from the rafters. It was a good thing he knew seven of them.

Then we gave each of the kids a container of silly string to web their bad guy. But what I didn't think of was how hard it would be for the kids to actually spray their silly string nor the smell ( and toxic fumes? ) that would come out of that many cans of silly string being emptied at the same time. It was fun nonetheless.

Then came the moment Hyrum had been waiting for. The Pinata! We rigged it too a hook to raise it for the different height levels of the kids ( and to bounce it for the older boys ). They had a blast.

Noah even got in on the action. I think he only connected once though.

It was fitting that the piñata was a Superman one because I swear that thing was made of steel.

Unfortunately at one point in the excitement for their turn there was a tangle for the stick and one of Hyrum's female party guests got smacked in the face. It was so sad. The fun Master of Ceremonies was called away to comfort the injured and the enforcer (me) came to take over the game in his stead. After the smack the stick was given to me after each turn before anyone got off their chairs. Yet I can't tell you how many boys took their chances hopping off their chairs prematurely while sticks flew and the piñata swung back at faces. Boys just get too excited to acknowledge the risk, I guess.

(The adorable little girl in the pink- yeah that's the one who caught it in the face- the other adorable girl wouldn't get anywhere near the piñata - wise...very wise )

Finally it took a swing from Derek and a lot of shaking to free the superhero candy from the man of steel. Then it was time for cake and presents

We'd ordered a cake from Sam's Club ( I can hear my sister groaning now) at least a week before the event and they called me the day before to tell me that they didn't have the decorations for the cake and offered other themes. I was bugged. Derek was more so and suggested that we get the cake somewhere else which we did. THIS cake had a Spider-man who wished Hyrum a happy birthday. Even better.

Then came the presents which Hyrum loved. I didn't get any pictures since for some reason I was running around. It was interesting that it was the girls that gave him the gifts he initially liked the most. :)

After presents we went outside to do a water balloon toss which really ended up being a water balloon fight. It had been an after thought to get them and they were absolutely a hit!

All in all it was a great time! Happy Birthday little man! We sure love you!

( MONSTER POST with tons of pictures and videos ...consider yourself warned)

As soon as we moved in and the snow melted we knew we had our work cut out for us. The ground in our back yard sloped in two different directions and it was very unfinished. As we worked in the backyard we found that the ground had been slowly moving down hill in our direction pushing out out back yard neighbors fence with it. We knew we needed to do something sooner than later. So we saved. We looked into building retaining walls but with the lack of skill combined with the abundance of slope, not even knowing what "level" was in our back yard and the complete lack of time Derek had home we knew we'd never be able to do it ourselves ( not to mention two little boys that won't let us both work on anything together outside ). We were convinced that we'd be doing it for years and then end up hiring someone to do it right in the end. We saved some more. We had no idea who would do it until we had our friends Matt and Cristall over for dinner and we realized that he did landscaping as well as building custom homes and restoring barns which we knew he did. We were glad that we were getting someone to do the work that we knew we could trust and knew would do quality work.

So on April 11th I had the boys in the car getting ready to go to the library when I saw the Harper and company truck pull up with a little back hoe digger being pulled behind. In minutes the boys were out of the car and watching the digger moving it's way into the back yard.

We were so excited. Hyrum was giggling like a little girl as we watched it dig into our yard.

But by the time I got the camera out the sun was just too much for Hyrum. :)

Within minutes the entire wall line was dug. Then he began to dig the trench to depth.

The best thing about the construction project as far as the boys were concerned was the digger that lived at our house for the duration of the project as well as the gigantic mounds of dirt to conquer
and slide down...

and ditches to throw dirt clods from

Noah loved the digger.

He was all about sitting on it. As soon as I got him up on it he just took to the gears like a natural. No wonder he loved to watch the guys work...he was studying.

I felt so responsible for the digger when it was here. When rain storms came....and they came REGULARLY during the project...I wrapped it up.

I unwrapped it one morning and found that a cat had sought refuge from the weather in my wrapped up digger for the night.

The next day Matt was here the rest of the trench was dug to depth and then he went after the concrete. It was amazing to watch. At first I didn't realize what was happening. I was feeding Noah and saw the back hoe lifting off the ground out of the corner of my eye. He was lifting the corner of the concrete and the whole section lifted off the ground then when he dropped it, it broke. I couldn't stop watching it. It was amazing. I got way too many videos of it.

The next day when they came to haul off the pieces of concrete Noah could not be contained. He had to be out there with them.

They even let him help them. He was beyond thrilled.

Then we waited for the rock to arrive. And the rain and wind to pass.

One consideration in our landscape plan was the pear tree. I wanted the retaining wall around 4 to 5 feet from the fence line and the pear tree was around 7 feet from the fence line. I knew we'd probably have to move either it or the wall. When I went out to prune it this year I noticed this

and this

and knew if we did keep it the tree would have to be much shorter down the road at best. After weeks of vacillating we decided to reluctantly get a new tree and forgo two years of harvest. I told Matt that he could take it to his house and plant it if he wanted...I like to think that's what he did. ( Just a side note: only stake your trees if you have to and only for a year max when you do...thank you)

On April 21st the rock arrived.

The next day they got to work on the footings, leveling again and again. This little machine made sure that our wall and yard was level. Can't tell you how many times they checked it...countless.

So after all the leveling and the gravel and sand and more leveling they ran a level line and started laying the rock and leveled a bit more and put more rock down.

Then they started to level the ground in front of the wall and we started to see what a level backyard looks like.

The next day they were here the wall flew up.

Derek got home as they were putting up the last pieces of rock. He wanted to get out there and help but didn't want to get in their way. They were putting the cap stones on when the rain began to fall again. Then he couldn't just watch from the house he had to go out and help them finish.
Just as the last capstones were put on the rain stopped and the sun came out.

Do you see the rainbow? It was just for us you know. :)

It was crazy how different the wall made our backyard look, more defined. It strangely looked bigger too.

The next time Matt came he brought PVC pipe.

He thought that there'd be a connection to the water from the back for the sprinklers but found there wasn't. He had to run a line from the main, which meant digging up a little grass.

So getting to actually laying the pipe took longer than he expected.

As he was digging trenches and laying pipe he asked me what we had planned for the flower bed area and if I wanted to have sprinklers hit that area or run a drip line of some kind. Hadn't even thought of that. He also asked me if we wanted to move the linden tree we had near the center of the back yard and suggested moving it to the opposite end of the yard. Another thing I hadn't even considered. It was amazing to me how fast and easy he moved trees around. It hadn't even occurred to me to move the tree because I thought it would be very difficult if not impossible. As it turned out the tree looks so much better in it's current location It was in the process of leafing out and it didn't skip a beat. You'd never know it had been moved.

The next day they came was a whirlwind. The sprinklers were finished and the cement was poured

then we waited for the sod to come. And come it did.

It wasn't all for us...I think we only took two or three pallets.

After that was four guys laying down sod faster than I'd ever seen it laid.

We laid probably 200 sq feet of sod in our front yard last year and it took us...ALL DAY practically. These guys laid more than 2000 sq feet in a matter of an hour or two. It looked AMAZING! After adjusting the sprinklers and moving our sprinkler control ( which we had to run an extension cord to in order to run it previously) they were off leaving us with a beautiful backyard.

I tried to take a video after every phase. Here's the rapid fire progress and the final result.

And comparative pictures ( before first then after if you won't be able to tell )

South end


North end

Isn't it BEAUTIFUL? They did SUCH a good job. As soon as the boys hit the backyard they BOTH made a beeline to the wall and climbed up. Stay tuned for broken arms, legs and scraped up appendages and heads.

Can't wait to plant my GARDEN!!!