My mom’s fiancé, my soon to be step-dad, was kind and cruel enough to volunteer to help us put an in-ground sprinkler system in both our yard and my mom’s (she lives next door to me when she’s not with her hubby to be in Houston). 

Last year after our stay at the hospital I wrote a post called The Lighter Side, sharing some of the funnier moments of our experience. It’s hard to believe that today is the one-year anniversary of when we checked Evan into the hospital.  To celebrate, and to start your week off right, I thought I would share our top 10 lessons learned from ditch digging and helping to install a sprinkler system.

Top 10 life lessons learned from installing a sprinkler system:

1.  There is a reason swear words were invented.  And expletives.  And colorful metaphors.  There are just times when no other words will suffice. 

2.  It takes twice as long as you think it will to do EVERYTHING.  Plan accordingly.

3.  Ditch witches are cool!  But you should never, ever, under any circumstances, ever operate them after having several cocktails.  ‘Nough said.

4.  Project creep happens.  We went to Lowe’s to buy all of the piping and materials, and I left with a new refrigerator, living room rug, and grill.  They are all things we needed, and my mom had a really great coupon.  I was told I let project creep take over, and these were well-beyond the scope of the project.  Oops.

5.  Every ounce of your body can be sore at the same time.  As I type, even my fingers hurt!

6.  Digging ditches makes lots of dirt.  When you mix dirt with rain, it makes mud.  If you have dogs (or a husband), they will find the mud and track it everywhere, especially on your new living room
rug (see #4). 

7.  Lowe’s lies.  The motto at Lowes is “Let’s build it together.”  I can assure you, neither Lowe’s nor any of their employees were on their knees digging ditches at our house.  While we were sweating and swearing, the Lowe’s folks were nowhere to be found!

8.  The family that digs together…  If you can dig ditches and install a sprinkler system with your family and still remain civil and on speaking terms, the project has been a wild success.  While we certainly had our moments, I am amazed at how well we did.

9.  There should be a book on leadership lessons learned from ditch digging (maybe that’s my first bestseller).  Working on a project like this requires clear goals and expectations, open communication, leadership, vision, and a solution-oriented attitude.  Every single thing I talk about in my sessions with clients was experienced in a 72-hour period.

10. You have to be able to laugh at yourself…and each other.  I love nothing more than to laugh so hard I’m gasping for breath.  The next time you need one of those laughs, install a sprinkler system with your family.  You’ll have plenty of them.

I’m hopeful that by this time next year, I’ll be able to show you a before and after picture.  For now, you’ll just have to see the before pictures. 



  1. I’ve always heard that a family that can live through wallpaper hanging together can get through anything. Your story is much funnier though! Thank you for brightening my day!!

  2. Wow! And the only shoveling I did this holiday weekend was from the plate to my mouth! Congrats to you all on such an accomplishment!The life lessons are priceless; thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Valerie,

      Thakns so much for your comment. I’m not sure if “blast” adequately describes what we had, but it was definitely somethin’ like that 😉

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