Getting the news that one has cancer is a life-changing blow. When Redditor darestevens, a father of two daughters, learned he had skin cancer, all he wanted to do was create something that his kids would remember forever, bringing smiles to their faces for years to come. So he decided to completely make over his otherwise plain backyard into a magical little world where they could run, climb, and play, and where he and his wife could relax under the stars.
Though it was definitely hot, tiring work, this massive project also helped the dad stay positive and hopeful during his treatments. The outcome is truly impressive.
Here was the backyard in the beginning. Not much to look at, and not very interesting to two small kids.
First things first: all the overgrowth and weeds had to come out. This also made the yard into two levels.
To make sure everything would fit and look good, he first built a scale model out of foam core.
When all the planning and purchasing was done, the building began. First came the deck.
It would also have a canopy.
The canopy pieces were tightly wedged in for a sturdy structure.
The flooring was added, and the deck was done! But that was hardly all he had planned for this yard...
The raised section was turned into a long walkway, a space for some gardening and for the girls to practice their soccer kicks.
But there was still quite a bit of room left...
So obviously, something had to fill in the space.
A playhouse was the perfect fit!
It would feature an indoor space, as well as a little deck.
Underneath, there is a sandbox and a chalkboard wall.
When it was completed and decorated, the play area became the perfect secret hideaway!
The dad also constructed a rather imposing-looking gate to separate the yard space from the street.
When everything was built, a slide, trampoline, and plenty of cozy accessories and lighting were added.
The girls love their new space, and darestevens loves it because it gets them playing outside and away from the TV.
Here's the new and improved backyard!
This is the view from the deck, where darestevens can relax -- and keep an eye on his little ladies.
There's still plenty of room for greenery.
And it looks amazing. It's like a little secret tucked away from the rest of the world.
Watch the backyard come together in this impressive time-lapse video:video-player-present
If you're interested in the more specific, technical details of how darestevens put all this together (and, given the scale, there's a lot going on), you can check out the rest of his making-of gallery on Imgur and an even more detailed account on his WordPress blog.
His wife and daughters love their new space, but it was the building of it, the making of something with his own hands, that helped darestevens get over his fear and anger about his diagnosis and face his treatments with courage. It also helped bring this tight-knit family even closer.