When I was younger I read the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” from cover to cover.

Do you remember that book?

I think my parents rolled their eyes when I read the poem about Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who would not take the garbage out.

But I didn’t care.

Shel Silverstein was my hero.

He was funny and irreverent and made eating a whale and collecting junk and a crocodile toothache into poems that danced off the pages of a book.


I found his book the other day and picked it up…..

.…..and read the poems of my childhood.

And there I found these words:

Once I spoke the language of the flowers

Once I understood each word the caterpillar said

Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings

And shared a conversation with a house fly in my bed

Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets……

Once I spoke the language of the flowers…..

How did it go?

How did it go?

                                                                                                   ~Shel Silverstein



Wonderful, incredible imagination.

I can remember transforming a fort into a castle and becoming a princess and making a fence from sticks for the garden and digging a moat in the dirt and dining on saltine crackers and Fresca…..

….and ruling a kingdom.

Back when I spoke the language of the flowers.


And that’s exactly what I want for my children.

That is my hope for them.

But this is the information age with all the clamor and clutter and noise.

The days are full of ipads and iphones and clouds and video games….

….that sometimes leave imagination in the dust.


And I want them to experience the joy of a sunny afternoon spent under the leafy branches of a tree.

The joy of watching clouds roll by overhead in a crystal blue sky.

The wonder of an anthill and sound of a cricket choir…..

…..echoing across a rolling meadow.


So I created a place for dreaming and planning and hoping and creating.

I spray painted a tree house in vivid colors and patterns with steps that lead up to a clubhouse where you need a secret password to enter.

And added outdoor pillows and stumps for tables underneath the branches of a leafy tree.


And created a place where imagination reigns supreme.

A place for reading books and drinking lemonade.

A place for digging moats and flying airplanes and lowering secret messages tied to a rope and drawing pictures with glitter pens on the pages of a notebook.

A place where two tiny golden-haired princesses….

….can learn to speak the language of the flowers. 🙂


PS  The tree house doesn’t look like this now.

The bowling pins are scattered across the lawn….the pillows are in the top of the tree house…..the cats are sleeping on the chair….and someone just wrote their name on the step.

So happy to report….

…..that imagination is alive and well.  🙂


disclosure:  this post is sponsored by the brilliant colors of Krylon spray paint but all opinions are completely my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information. 

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for andrea andrea

    Oh how absolutely MAGICAL ...I want to come here and play and drink lemonade...what a whimsical and wonderful place to be a kid! I LOVE Shel Silverstein and it was a gift for me to share him with my's also wonderful to know that imagination is alive and well!!!! hugs...

  2. Image for Stephanie Brown Stephanie Brown

    What a neat place! Your children are so Lucky to Have you as their mom, looks like you not only know how to make a colorful And cool castle but also a lovely pitcher of lemonade! My favorite drink of summer Except sweet tea of course!

  3. Image for Danielle M Danielle M

    I here by vote this the best sentence ever blogged in the history of DIY Mom blogging: "A place for digging moats and flying airplanes and lowering secret messages tied to a rope and drawing pictures with glitter pens on the pages of a notebook." Can I do that?

  4. Image for Julia - Vintage with Laces Julia - Vintage with Laces

    You are creating amazing and wonderful childhood memories for your girls, KariAnne. The tree house is totally adorable. Who needs any electronic devices when there is such a great place to play and dream. Have a sunny weekend :)! Julia

  5. Image for carol carol

    Oh, transport me back, to my childhood and to the childhood of our five children... I grew up out in the country. My husband grew up in town, on a street corner lot with only sidewalks. I told him we'd raise a different child out in the country. We built our dream home on 14 acres, and planted 6,000 trees. We are surrounded by forest with a wide path out to our back pond, that has an island in the middle. We had the tree fort tucked just a bit in the woods, and another down the pond path, where you had to cross a bit of a soggy boggy area to get to a patch of open grass surrounded by trees...where no one could see you. There we set up an old spool for a table, and they used tree trunks for chairs.... Now my husband is going to build me my own little cabin, from recycled windows of a century home, with the wavy glass, some hoop windows, and one leaded glass transom....down that same path. We are grandparents now, and the plan is for those little ones to share the same magic their parents knew, out here in the country. Bonus that the beach is a walk down the road......endless fun there too. I love starting my day with hearing whatever you have to say !!

  6. Image for Marisa Franca @ Allourway Marisa Franca @ Allourway

    How can your children NOT have an imagination with such a wonderful mommy such as yourself. I always love to tell my children that the acorn does not fall too far from the oak. You always start my day with a smile or sometimes a tear -- emotion that is what you bring forth and that my dear friend is TALENT!!!! I am a dreamer and I suppose you are too. It takes imagination and you are so right that we are bombarded with too much noise from all the gadgets. The mind can't think-- too much static. You are wonderful -- have a great day filled with sunshine and flowers.

  7. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Miz karianne, you're wonderful! We are in the process of cleaning up our small farm, preparing to move back out there...hopefully later this year. We're planting some new gooseberry and blackberry plants, something I always wished we'd done years ago. I wish we had a tree house. Wish we had a NEED for a treehouse, but the grandkids are grown, married, moved away and raising babies of their own....sigh....when we get everything else done that we 'really' need, I might have to have one anyway. It would be a great place to have a swing. Can you see some sort of a flowering, climbing vine attaching itself as it diligently builds a secret sanctuary for me? I think it would make a lovely, and welcome, addition to my garden area...which is also where my chickens will live....surely THEY too would thrive with something so special to gaze upon. Yep, may just have to plan on that.....already savoring the cold sweet tea....

  8. Image for Mimi -247 Mulberry Lane Mimi -247 Mulberry Lane

    Oh, KariAnne, I have to stop reading your blog before I go to school because you always make me cry! Sometimes because I laugh too hard, other times because your post is so touching. Today, I'm crying because you are one of the few parents who "get it," when it comes to kids. My junior high students are so busy trying to be "cool" and little grown ups that they have never been kids. On Fridays we have "Free Reading Fridays" where the kids get to choose what they want to read. For the first quarter of the year, it is a huge battle with my 7th graders because they haven't learned to love reading (yet). I have bean bags, floor pillows, cool chairs and a couch in my reading room to further entice them and I talk about books nonstop. Now that it's the end of the year, reading is their favorite thing to do. Last week, one of my "cool" guys, grabbed a floor pillow, made a mini fort out of two desks and crawled under there to read. He couldn't understand why I had tears in my eyes when he finally emerged thirty minutes later to tell me he had just finished the best book ever. He finally "got it." :-) Thanks for a great post! P.S. We love Shel Silverstein in my classroom, too!

  9. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    My daughter and I have read this book from cover to cover multiple times. Its one of our favorites. I have found her at the top of the stairs making people out of Q tips, folding for hours to make dozens and dozens of paper airplanes. I am sad to think that some day she will grow out of these great moments of imagination. Hopefully she will grow into a wonderfully funny and creative woman like you have Karianne. Once again a wonderful post that brought tears to my eyes.

  10. Image for Trina @ afewmineradjustments Trina @ afewmineradjustments

    We must be soul sisters....I am teaching my poetry unit right now with third and fourth grade and this book is the one that the kids all gravitate too. My paper cover is gone...I prefer the black cover and we just read and read until the words dance on our tongue and swirl in our minds. What a lovely and fun clubhouse for the kids. I would have spent my whole summer reading there if I had this as a kid. Instead I read Flowers in the Attic and The Babysitter's Club on my mom's wicker couch on the front porch...that was my heaven!

  11. Image for Shirley@housepitalitydesigns Shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    That is one of my son's favorite books!...I am so happy that he grew up in a world of no cell phones, iPads, etc...he enjoyed reading and just being outside . . Love Shel Silverstein...and love the "tree house" ??!!..You and your hubby are creating such a wonderful childhood for your children!...Have a wonderful weekend filled with things you love to do!!

  12. Image for Mary Jo Agles Mary Jo Agles

    Kari... Waking to your post is such a special way to start my day. The poetry of your words sings along with my heart in reflection of days past, of when I danced with the morning breeze, sang with the doves, rompped with the rabbits, and embraced spirit of soul found only in the tranquility country life. Your words play along with the little one who still plays tag with worn animal paths that swirl throughout the woods, and who climbs high into the bough of a lonesome apple tree lost… yet, found… residing along a wooded ravine. Suddenly, at seven, I tiptoe through the white and blue violets that splash across the earth, the canvas of my childhood haven, morning's edge gently musses my long dark hair. Thank you for the blessed clarity of life in this moment of treasured passion and love that quietly rests within my soul. Still, it tempts and tugs at my lonely heart in desperate need to return to where I began. One day your children with feel same in their elder years and smile, as I, for the gift you give them today. Bless you. MJA

  13. Image for Kitty Owens Kitty Owens

    I am a quiltmaker. My favorite quilt [andmy children and grandkids ] favorite quilt that i've made is "Too Many Kids In the Tub"

  14. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    LOVE Shel Silverstein. And I love that treehouse decor! I just have to say, though, that I would so invade that space while they're at school! LOL!

  15. Image for Abbey Abbey

    I treasured Shel Silverstein's work as a child too, and now we read it with our boys. I'm always trying to think of ways I can give some of the childhood I enjoyed to my kids--of exploring the woods for hours with my siblings and cousins. I think I may need to move.... :)

  16. Image for Angela Angela

    Love all that color and imagination! I loved that book as well.....time to find it and reread it again as I sit in backyard and listen to nature! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!~~Angela

  17. Image for Cheryl @ Artzzle Cheryl @ Artzzle

    Thanks for the memories. This was one of my son's favorite reads as well. He also passed it on to his sister . . . the story NOT the actual book. He stopped giving her his treasures, after she tore off the door on his Fisher Price barn , , , and the cow wouldn't moo anymore! Some things remain. He still keeps treasures . . . her, not so much . . . but she's a great singer, AND sister :) Wonderful post . . . have you ever researched literary agents?

  18. Image for Shannon M. Shannon M.

    Ok now you have gone and done it..... I have to paint my wooden swing set and fort!!! My kids are in Junior High and they love to read... But almost always pick up the devices instead of books!!! Real books... Marked with wear, pages you can smell, touch and wonder how many read this same book before you. It seems to be an age of instant gratification.... Internet, fast food, cell phones. I want my kids to linger... To learn to be patient... To sink their work into something that takes time to finish ( like a book). And the fact that the fort is disheveled truly tells the story of a Mom with some spray paint and pillows and some kids that used a fort to imagine and play!!!! Great job!!!!

  19. Image for Lynn in FL Lynn in FL

    Dearest Karianne- Just had to post today, and thank you for making me 6 years old again today....just for a moment or two! You have an amazing talent for decorating, and you are obviously a terrific wife, mom and blogger! But what you do that touches my heart so deeply, and compels me to read each and every post you write, even if it's a project I know I'd never do, is your innate ability to "speak the language of the flowers"! You haven't lost it, bring sunshine and laughter and tears and beautiful ideas and inspiration to the lives of many, many women each and every day, and that IS speaking the language of the flowers! Because, after all, isn't a flower's job to brighten the world, and touch someone's soul with their beauty? And that's exactly what you my mind, flowers and Karianne are synonymous! Keep speaking the language, and I promise, there are many of us who will keep listening! Love From Lynn

  20. Image for Winnie Winnie

    KariAnne ~ your kids are so blessed to be allowed to "know" all this. They would surely have missed it without you, as so many children do today. God bless you!!

  21. Image for Kris Kris

    Heck, I'm gonna kick your kids out and take up residence there myself! ;) In a similar vein, several years ago I created a play area in our unfinished basement--I put down a huge carpet rug, installed better and more fun lighting, painted the walls a soft golden color, painted tree trunks and autumn leaves (some dropping to the ground), stuffed silk autumn leaves in the rafters, added toys (and a sofa) ... it's their favorite play area. I've also learned I have to let go of "my" vision of the play area and let them hang their own pictures, etc., to make it theirs. If you build it, they will come ...

  22. Image for Anna Anna

    I love this! We have the perfect tree on the back of our lot for something like this for Malea. Adding this to Matt's TO BUILD list. :) Anna

  23. Image for Susan Susan

    I am hoping to do this for my future grandchildren. We had one and called the Imagination Station. We gave it to a family in need, after our children grew up. It's time for a new generation to imagine and create, in Grandma & Grandpa's backyard!

  24. Image for Heather {Woods of Bell Trees} Heather {Woods of Bell Trees}

    Now that is a fun playhouse! I love Shel Silverstein. I especially love that poem. I need a treehouse so my boy will quit writing and carving his name into furniture. LOL I have a rubbing of a person he carved into my dining table that I no longer was tough giving that table away.

  25. Image for Susan Susan

    Amazing tree house! My brother and Sisters built one in the woods behind our family farm.It was definitely not as nice as yours but we had some great times in it. We pretended to be on Gilligan's Island, we even brought a coconut along not realizing how tough they were to open :)

  26. Image for cheri cheri

    What a magical place that little treehouse, I used to read those very same books by Mr Silverstein to my children when they were growing up. Lovely pics!

  27. Image for Nancy Brantley Nancy Brantley

    Nancy B said I'm with you KariAnne. Electronics has ruined young kids. You need precious memories when you grow up. I grew up on a farm and had tree house, my imagination went wild. I loved talking to the tree frogs and crickets. They knew exactly what I was talking about..... Love your painted tree house, the little ones will make memories they will never forget. You are a great Mom.

  28. Image for Shanna Shanna

    I'm sure I can still recite several poems from where the sidewalk ends. I love that book! I remember hearing construction as a kid and pretending it was giants wrecking the town. I also was convinced I saw a unicorn once. : ) isn't it wonderful how u can relive it through your children.

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