The Newest Blueberry Picking Experience

Each year the kids and I go blueberry picking with my dad.  Because we pick on a farm only a couple of miles from the house in which I grew up and because the blueberries are owned by childhood family friends, the trip is always full of memories.

Memories of the past and yes I most definitely will say memories in the making.

Even though this trip has only been taken 4 years, with kids in tow and cell phone service non exsistant in this area, there is always a story to be told.  One time it was the dead car battery.  Another time it was my dad as a no-show (remember kids in tow).  Once there was a flat tire with very few houses in sight and then there was that stop in the middle of the road.  This year there was to be no exception.

The road that we take to go blueberry picking is quite curvy…ok extremely curvy…more like a roller coaster that they place on the GPS system and call a road but the fastest and easiest route to get to where we are going.  We have never had any definitive experiences with kids getting car sick.  Well, there was that one time we went blueberry picking when Pretty Girl did get a little sick but I was confident that it had more to do with the fact that she was still rear-facing and had been hurriedly shoveled cold yogurt right before heading on the road than it did with her inability to handle the curvy road.  Still, I was a little cautious for her, keeping one eye on the road and one on her as we took each and every turn.  I was ready to stop at the very first sign of Pretty Girl getting sick in the car….and stop we did…3 times in fact….just to get out of the car, walk around a bit, and get some fresh air…and 3 more times for much more messier reasons.  Note to self and any others who may be in need of knowing, when a 2 year old tries to hand off her very favorite, carry-with-her-everywhere stuffed animal to her big brother then be prepared!

On one of these stops I had left my driver’s side door open in a very feeble attempt to quickly get to Pretty Girl and stop what was occurring at that very moment.  Of course with no success, I started the clean up process.  Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a black object sprinting from behind me, jumping into the drivers’s side door and perching itself on the passenger side.  So just what does a mother do when she is cleaning up a not-so-nice-mess, with 3 kids in the car, on a curvy mountain side, with no cell phone service, and a wild animal in the car?  She screams!  Well, that’s exactly what I did…Actually it was more of a half scream and hold-my-breath, what in this world am I going to do now, deal but scream it still was.

So what was this wild animal you ask?  A dog!  A small, frisky, apparently ready-for-a-ride dog.  What in this world was I going to do with the dog in my car?  I stopped to the clean-up process and moved to the passenger side door.  By the time I did, BroBro had voiced “Boo” and the energetic hitch-hicker was off, out of the car and headed up the long driveway we had apparently pulled into in my feverish attempt to pull off the side of the road. Ok, dog out, back to clean up.

So again, a blueberry trip with a story.  And since I did not have the senses about me at the time to snap a picture of the dog and nobody wants a picture of the mess, then those fun peaceful blueberries are my Most Beautiful Things.  I do love those fresh blueberries….and added to that the memories from the past that they bring back…and the memories that they continue to create.

Linking up with One Beautiful Thing

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A Letter a Week – B

B is for Balls, Bugs, and Butterflies.

For our B week, we started off with a little bit of coloring..an activity that is quickly becoming one of Pretty Girl’s favorite things to do.

We counted the butterflies and covered them with tokens.

We put together the ball puzzle and matched the sides of the butterflies, identifying each color as we put them together.

We tried out hand at the lacing card again.

We’ll get a hang of it one day!

We had lots of fun practicing B in shaving cream.

And made pretty butterflies out of a coffee filter and watercolors.

 

We made bear toast and butterfly snack bags.

Idea from FoodBeast

We went blueberry picking and ate LOTS of those blueberries.  You’ve got to check back to find out just what happened on this year’s blueberry exertion.

And to finish it off we enjoyed a day of butterflies and bugs with Gooba, (more on our fun-filled day will be posted later this week).

Once again thank you to Confessions of a Homeschooler and 1+1+1=1 for all of their wonderful printables.

A is for Apples and Astronauts

(exploring the letter “A”, part 2)

Day 4:

Pretty girl continued to explore the letter “A” last week.  We started day 4 in the kitchen by making a Puffed Apple Pancake.  Yum, Yum!  

We continued by bingo stamping our way through the letter A maze and coloring an A page.  Pretty girl has really gotten into “coloring” lately.  She works diligently to cover as much of the page as she can and ends up producing a very colorful masterpiece.

Next we practiced drawing straight lines from one apple to another and then took a stab at cutting those lines.  The printable can be found at at Tot School Printables.

For our afternoon project we made our own apple pie play dough.  MawMaw got to join in on the fun.  She helped us shape the letter A and create our own play-dough apples.


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Day 5:

On our last day we joined Gooba from The Gooba Diaries for a fun filled Astronaut Adventure.  We made pretty pictures by painting moon shapes and gluing on the letter A surrounded by a sky full of finger painted glitter stars.

Gooba’s mommy had also made the girls (along with BroBro) gel space bags.  This was my personal favorite.  She filled each ziplock bag with hair gel, a drop of black paint and glitter and then taped them tightly closed.  The kids practiced drawing the upper and lower case A and then to shapes and scribbles.

Moon bags were followed by a space ball snack, (yummy) and free play in the pink spaceship that had somehow landed in the middle of our living room.

Oh no, we found the aliens!  They were drawn all over the driveway and needed to be terminated.  First the kids tried to accomplish this by jumping on them as we called out their colors.  When this didn’t work the kids then began to attack with their trusty squirt bottles.  In order to completely eliminate the threat it was important that each alien was completely washed away so a few last looks for a lingering foot, hand or eye was important.

With the aliens under control we then were able to play with the moon sand they left behind.  Hidden in the sand were rocks with big and little “A”s written on them.  As each rock was discovered,  the girls sorted them into the correct crater of  little “a” or big “A”.  I was very impressed by Pretty Girl’s quick ability to sort the rocks she found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a break for lunch and more time in the spaceship we created our own telescopes out of toilet paper rolls and used them to go on a hunt for neon orange moon rocks.

What a great day is was.  Thank you Gooba for the Awesome “A” Adventure.  We look forward to next week!

Beautiful Summer Night

Did I mention that I LOVE photography?  Did I also mention that I know so very little about how to get those amazing pictures?  And did I happen to point out that I WANT to get better.

I am working on it, every chance I get.  So last night when we loaded the kids into the van and crammed in the stroller and bikes for a bike ride  my camera was right by my side.

I will have to say it was quite a sight.  Me, taking numerous test shots in order to get the exposure just right.  Getting a few shots in only to have to change the settings because the sun was setting AND my (not-so-eager-to-slow-down) subjects were quickly moving in and out of wooded areas.  And best of all my obvious lack of skill as I pushed the stroller with one hand and held the camera with the other all while running to keep up with the bikes that were moving much faster than I out in front.  Did you catch the part about having to constantly change my settings?

I am not the best at descriptive writing but I sure hope you can get the picture…professional photographer I am not.

With all of that fooling around this is one of the few shots I actually got

When I finally got tired of chasing the bikes, (reminder, stroller in one hand and camera in the other) I slowed to a walk.  I stopped as I crossed a small bridge and captured this quiet shot.  My only wish is that I could have also captured the beautiful noises that went along with it; the soft trickle of the water, the crickets in the grass, and the faint sounds of birds as they were saying good-night.

And finally, still trailing behind, I captured the picture at the top with the beautiful sunset.  Oh, what a magnificent painter my God is!

Now, since I have no idea how to take a good picture of a sunset this particular part of the evening was no different than the other.  Shot after shot was taken with a change in setting here and a change there.  I am pretty sure that I have no idea which is the best aperture and shutter speed for getting just the right shot, but chances are, somewhere in multitude of shots taken I must be getting close closer.

Thank you Father above for the many beautiful things seen on this beautiful summer night.

Now off to find out how to get the best sunset shot.

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Linking up with Brooke at One Beautiful Thing

A letter a week (A)

A is for Apple (part 1)

DAY 1

Our fist week of teaching the tot started with…what else, but the letter A.

We sang the alphabet song and read the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.

We identified and colored the letter A as well as pictures that started with the letter A.  Pretty Girl choose to use a marker on this day and for whatever reason spent a great deal of time coloring her page until the letter A was no longer recognizable.  She even let BroBro take a stab at coloring the Alligator.  Even when I tried to put her coloring page away, she wanted to color more.  This was time well spent.

For snack we ate…you got it… red apples.

Later in the day we pulled out the paint shirts.  I cut an apple to show off the star on the inside and then let them print away.  They used red, green, and yellow.  I was hoping the star would show up but I can’t say it did, even when I, myself tried.  No big deal, though, they both enjoyed investigating the different prints that can be made just by the different ways that you place the apple on the paper.

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DAY 2

On our second day of exploring the letter A, Pretty Girl got to play with one of her favorite things:  the bingo marker.  She used the marker to stamp the As on the the paper.   Because she loves the stamper so much I was a bit surprised when she proclaimed “All done!” after stamping the last A.  I totally expected her to  proceed with the stamping until the entire page was full of red circles.  She did a great job of getting the stamps on the A though.  I am sure the stamper will make another appearance soon.

Next, we pulled out the lacing Apple to which she stated “You do, Mommy”.  When I gladly accepted, she intently watched.  When I placed it to the side she looked at it for only a few moments and then I guess her curiosity got the best of her.  It wasn’t long before I saw her pick up the apple, unlace the last few holes and then place them back in.  We’ll see how many times Mommy has to do it before she is confident enough to try it on her own.

Lunch today was accompanied by Grapples, a tasty grape-flavored apple which is never bought due to its ridiculous cost (and the fact that a grape-flavored apple is just weird).  Neither one of the kids noticed a difference until I pointed it out.  Looks like regular apples it will continue to be.

For our after lunch craft we made apple sun catchers (so pretty and easy to do). 

We feasted on apple smiles.  Mine just didn’t turn out as nice as the ones found on Pinterest (check out my A-F board to see some of my pins).  They look more like snaggle teeth but with the inclusion of the marshmallow, they were still a big hit.

DAY 3

Today was such a great day spent with Pretty Girl and her A activities.

First she wanted to re-read the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom after which I had her look at a list of letters and pick out the the correct letter.  Once she did, we cut, colored and taped the letter A on her own tree.

Today was also spent putting together Apple puzzles.  We have 2 different puzzles, one with 3 pieces and one with 6 pieces.  I have placed magnets on the back of each of these and Pretty Girl loves lining up the pieces on the cookie tray.  She is not very good at getting the pieces in the correct place yet but I look forward to watching her learn this recognition skill as we continue to repeat the same puzzles over and over.

We easily matched the shadow of the apple with the apple picture. I was highly impressed by her ability to do this without any difficulty.  Looks like we need to add some additional images to this task.

Pretty girl also had fun matching the apple seeds with the beans (they look like seeds, right?).  First I had her cover each of the seeds with a bean.  Then I tried to get her to move the seeds to the blank space, thus matching the number of seeds to the number of beans.  She preferred putting the beans on the seeds.  🙂

Before heading to the pool we also squeezed in an apple paper plate craft.  Can you tell which one was done by the Kindergartner and which was done by the Tot?  Paint is always a hit in this house.

Tonight for dinner we will be making our own applesauce.  Apples are already in the crockpot.  Awesome A.  What fun we are having.  Check back in a few days to see how we finished our week of A.

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Printables we used can be found at 1+1+1=1 and Confessions of a Homeschooler, ABCs and 123.  Thank you to both of these wonderful women who have so graciously shared their work.

Also check out my IRL friend from The Gooba Diaries, who is also doing a letter a week with her Tot.

Busy Bees

Rest time hit today and I decided to pick up the camera and head outside.  In the herb garden the rosemary has bloomed and there was a great number of bees busily moving from one bloom to another indulging in the sweetness of the plant’s nectar.  It’s not very often that I will hang around a bunch of bees but these guys were so pre-occupied that I knew I could hang without causing too  much distraction.  I watched and photographed them for quite some time.  As I watched I was reminded of all of the pieces in God’s beautiful creation and significance that each plays on the other.  These bees were busy!  They were moving back and forth from bloom to stem back to bloom and onto leaves.  They barely stopped.  They had a job to do and a limited time to do it.  They were following the pattern that God set up for them many many years ago.  No distractions, just the playing out of that which is before them.  It was one beautiful thing to watch.

Sometimes I feel like the bee.  I am always busy buzzing around from one thing to another.  I always feel like I have things to do and am always strapped to get them done in a limited amount of time.  However, unlike the bee I am not just following the pattern of nature.  I am given the choices.

I read an excerpt from a book the other day that pointed out that we, as humans, are the only species that have to ask “what should I eat?”.  While it was food that I was researching at the time, this statement really made me think about us humans and the abundances of choices that are in front of us for everything we do.

For all other animals there are no “choices”.  There is simply the “what is”.  The rabbit does not look at the abundance of my garden vegetables in front of him and contemplate which one he wishes to devour first nor does the blue bird spend a huge amount of time strategizing in which tree he will build his nest.  They just do what God created them to do.

Now think about us.  Just visualize the aisle of a grocery store and the immense number of salad dressings that exist and one can go crazy with the choices that we have to make.  That’s just salad dressing?  As humans, we have to make choices on just about everything.  What will we eat?  When will we eat?  How much will we eat?  How will we spend out money?  How will we earn that money that money that we spend?  What time will we go to bed?  What time will we wake up?  How will we do the laundry?  What detergent will we use when we do it?  What will we wear today?  What will our children wear today?  What book will we pick up?  Will we pick up a book?  How will be spend our time?

Those are just the simple ones.  We are also confronted each and every moment with even greater choices that impact who we are as individuals and who those around us are as individuals.  Wow, choices come with some great responsibility.

I love choices.  I like that I don’t have to follow the mold that is set up by those around me.  I like that I can do what I want to to do, essentially when I want to do it.  But I also want to remember the bees.  The bees do what is natural.  They gather the nectar and pollenate the plants.  They mate and lay eggs.  They even occasionally sting.  Their goal is for survival and work to accomplish that by doing nothing but what God intended for them to do.

Yes, my goal is different. My goal is to live out the glory of God.  But, I am not so sure that all the choices I make and all of the busyness I create for myself exemplifies that true plan.   Maybe, there are days that I need to set back, let nature lead the way and get busy like the bee; forgetting all of the choices that are in front of me and simply let God set the pattern for how things should go.  Beautiful busy bees!

FYI, Now I have an itching for a macro lens.  I have an interest to get even closer to those busy bees.

Linking up with Brooke at One Beautiful Thing

The Great Cup Stack!

Do you ever feel that you are always trying to entertain the kids?  I do.  As most moms know, keeping them busy keeps them out of trouble.  Knowing this is the easy part.  Figuring out what will keep them entertained is a different story.  Sometimes we get deep and creative with this but last week we went simple…super simple.

We pulled out the cups!

BroBro had a blast seeing just how high he could stack the cups.  I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves on this one.

We started off small.

And they started getting bigger.

Can’t you just see the excitement!

BroBro wanted to help Pretty Girl…this is a rare moment!

They’re getting even higher

Notice anything a little different about this one?

Even the littlest man was entertained!

Each had their own way of building and their own way of signifying accomplishment.  Pretty Girl enjoyed stacking the cups in small stacks and immediately knocking them over again (I can’t believe I missed the pictures of that part).  BroBro liked seeing how tall he could stack.  He enjoyed the tumbling too, but could only bare this if he was positive that a picture had been taken to prove his achievement.

Sometimes the simplest of things can be the best of things.  The cups were definitely a huge success and I am sure they will make an appearance again soon.

As a sidenote, for those that are curious, there was a purpose behind the different colored cups.  The yellow cups were given to Pretty Girl and the blue ones were given to BroBro.  By designating a color per kid, there was a better chance of each focusing on their own cups and not “stealing” or “tumbling” cups on their way to the top.  When Pretty Girl was not around, Bro Bro combined the collections together to make the biggest tower he could.