new fence: our yard got braces!

yard braces words 2Isn’t it weird/cool/surprising when seemingly disparate elements in life intersect? For example, here at the home tome headquarters we finally got a fence installed this week. Simultaneously, I have been getting ready to go to my first blogging conference, Blog U, in Baltimore this weekend. What could these two things possibly have in common? I’ll tell you: extreme awkwardness.

First, the fence. My husband and I have only been resisting this for a century. (Okay, 5 years.) I wrote exactly a year ago here, about our specific fencing dilemmas. We decided we needed to do it NOW, in order to contain our two year old who currently loves nothing more than to sprint at the speed of light while giggling excitedly and intermittently looking back, i.e. not in his direction of travel.

We have a corner lot on a busy street with no back yard, only side and front yards. This Spring, when the snow finally melted around here, he started kicking and throwing his soccer ball in the lawn with a gusto he didn’t have last year, covering more ground and with a greater velocity. The result was that every time we were outside, my husband and I were in a state of anxiety: cringing, lurching, and calling out STOP!!! with panic every time our precious progeny even looked at the road. Needless to say, this kind of stress isn’t why we set up shop in the suburbs.

I had been dreading the way a fence would change the appearance of our property. It was hard to decide what materials to choose (didn’t really like any of them) and how much space to enclose. After much hemming and hawing, we went with bare wood, split rail, with wire mesh. It’s kind of like a farmer’s fence. This was fairly cost-effective, and it needed to be since we decided to go big as far as its length. The Fencing Installation Show captivated our son. He had a front row seat on the porch while he ate his breakfast.

watching fence installationIt’s a live Fence Performance.

It only took them two days to finish it. The result is, in fact, a bit jarring. Every time I peek out the window or approach from the street, I can’t help but think that the fence makes our yard look like it got braces.

split rail wood fence 1Doesn’t it look like we should get a Shetland Pony?

It’s awkward! It’s a big change! I feel self-conscious about what people are thinking! Just look how the fence chops up that formerly clear space.

split rail fence 2Ugh, does it “go” with our mid century house??? Too late now!

And this is exactly how I felt when I got braces on my teeth, many moons ago, in middle school.

I have been thinking back to this time in my life a lot lately, since, at Blog U there will be a party on Saturday night with a #MiddleSchoolAwkward theme, sponsored by Nickelodeon.

We are invited to dress the part that night, so attendees have been giddily posting on the FB page about their outfits. Thanks to a pesky little hoarding habit, I have gathered together the following gems from my own Middle School Collection circa 1986…

middle school awkwardYes, that bracelet is composed of friendship pins. 

Yikes. To further accessorize, I purchased some other goodies, including but not limited to… a scrunchy.

We were also invited to submit photos of ourselves from our own middle school eras for a Most Awkward contest. I submitted the following, mostly to share the gravity-defying power of The Perm, but take note of those shiny things running like train tracks across my teeth:

awkwardHair fluffed up for EXTRA EXTRA volume.

Yikes, again. To clarify: 1) I will soon be attending a conference where I do not know a soul and attempt to make some real-life internet buddies. 2) I will be wearing dorky attire from a bygone era. And 3) This is the photo that currently represents me on the very busy FB page. Awkward indeed.

So this is why I have braces on the brain and why it now seems to me like we also have them on…the yard. I must confess, when the fence installation was complete, I scrunched up my nose like a moody 13 year-old.

Then we took the fence for a so-called spin.

Our child ran circles around the yard with abandon – woo hoo! – and we didn’t feel like we needed to be within arm’s length. Strangely enough, by closing him in, he was more FREEEEE. And so were we: in fact, my husband and I stood on our lawn and actually had a conversation (!) because we weren’t chasing after him like paranoid maniacs.

Just look how far away I am to take this photo while he was *running away from me.* Trust me, this never would have happened one week ago:


This collusion of events has reminded me of something important: sometimes we have to do difficult things (like get braces or install a fence) in order to get to a better place (like straight teeth or providing a carefree, outdoorsy suburban existence for our family.)

Along these lines, sometimes we have to admit that no matter how long we have been doing something, i.e. writing, we still have a lot more to learn and that might be from a group of people we’ve never met. This conference may be a little uncomfortable and difficult, but it might also be fun, and I have a feeling it’s going to get me, this blog, and and my writing career to a better place. In fact, to a degree it already has.


What challenge have you faced lately to get to a better place? Thoughts on fences? Thoughts on blogging conferences? Please leave a comment!

For more home tome, but in smaller increments and with very straight teeth, follow me on twitter here @jocelynjanecox

Also, check out my latest piece at the mid: How I’ve Failed My Super Crunchy Parents

12 replies

  1. I think that fence is adorable. I’ve told my husband that when we find our forever home, I HAVE to have a white picket fence. My brain is part grandma, I think.

  2. I like that your fence fences in your yard without making it feel fenced in. (Could I have fit “fence” into that sentence one more time? What I mean is, you can see through it and it doesn’t cut you off visually from the street.)

    • Thanks, we were so “on the fence” hee hee. Yes, we figured that going big would give the kid more room to sprint and give the house more room to breathe….hope you are well…

  3. We love our fence. We’re really on an out-of-the-way street so when we’re outside with the toddler, I don’t feel like I have to keep him within arm’s reach all the time. But I love that I can let him play in the fenced backyard by himself when I need to prepare meals.

    • Yes! I am learning that fences are just as good (or better) for parents as they are for kids – the exact same lesson I Iearned with interior fences (safety gates) a while back. Hope you are well 🙂

  4. Hi, Jocelyn! It was great meeting you at BlogU. I can totally relate to this post. We just got a long overdue fence for our postage-stamp sized yard. I’m still getting used to it but hopefully it will curtail those awkward phone calls from our neighbors saying our dog got out and pooped in their yard. Again. 😉

    • Great to meet you too! Ha! Yes, fences take some getting used to but they provide great peace of mind. We don’t have a dog but there is *much talk* about getting one now… 🙂

  5. I LOVE your new fence! You totally needed it. Like for you and your son’s sanity! I don’t think it looks jarring and the bright new wood color will fade by next summer. I’m so glad we met at BlogU. Out of the few encounters we had with each other, I enjoyed them each immensly. 🙂

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