Strawberry Season 2012

Strawberry season is here already in southern Virginia.  We’ve gone to the fields two times and gotten two huge buckets of berries each time.  This year we headed to a different farm (than years past) for their organic berries and both Jack and Casey were excited to get fresh strawberries.  
The first trip was on a pretty chilly day.  Casey was freezing and the “jacket” that she grabbed wasn’t keeping her very warm.  But she carried the bucket for me and let me fill it up.  She’s not really much of a picker…just likes to watch the bucket get filled.
Jack on the other hand, was spouting the strawberry rules to me almost verbatim from what he heard last year.  “Mommy, don’t pick any with white on them.  Make sure they’re all red.  The white ones are ‘tomorrow’ berries.”  He then reminded me that the proper way to pick the berries is the pinch the stem, not pull on it.

I don’t have any pictures from our second trip that we took this week.  There were a lot of red berries, so Jack didn’t have to remind me not to pick tomorrow berries.  However, I might have reminded him about overly ripe red berries.  He was exclaiming about how great the berries were and all the red ones he was finding.  By the time I filled my bucket I couldn’t believe he had already filled his.  He was so excited to find all those berries.  For some reason it kind of made me love him even more that he so diligently picked all those berries and was so proud of himself.  Even when I had to throw half of them away, I was still so proud of him.

The nice thing about this farm is the sand pile beside the produce stand.  The kids had a great time playing in it both days.  A big pile of dirt and lots of toys – what’s not to love?  And while they played on the first trip, I had to go back and fill up the tops of the buckets as I realized I had paid by the bucket.

The April edition of Southern Living has been very helpful with finding a use for all the berries.  With the first batch, I made strawberry refrigerator jam, canned strawberry-honey jam, strawberry cream pie, strawberry salad, strawberry ice cream and froze about a quart.  With the more recent batch I made strawberry caprese salad and we’ve just been eating them with some whipped cream.  Jack claims he is tired of them already but not when I offered some whipped cream.  I still have a bucket left…maybe some more jam.  I was going to freeze a lot more but the garage refrigerator lost power and I have no more room left in the kitchen freezer.

When I mentioned getting some more berries and giving them to the teachers for teacher appreciation week, Jack said, “The farm again?!?”  Maybe after a few days, he’ll be ready again 🙂

Jack’s Easter Party at School

I was the party planner for Jack’s Easter party which was held the Thursday before Easter.  Thankfully I had other moms helping out with the food but I put a lot of time and thought into my craft and the egg hunt.
I sent a note home with the parents to have everyone send in 14 eggs.  Jack’s teacher had mentioned 14 since that’s how many kids are in the class.  Not 30 minutes after I sent the note home, I realized that it didn’t matter how many kids are in the class as long as they all send in the same amount of eggs.  Because I really didn’t think they needed 14 eggs filled with candy.  But that’s what they got!  
I learned that they now sell eggs already filled with candy and you can get Star Wars themed eggs.  Brilliant.  But I’d already bought my empty eggs and candy and stuffed my own.  
Now what to do with almost 200 eggs.  It seemed too easy to just throw them all in a field.  Last year they each got six and I numbered them with the intent that they all get one of each number but that was a little confusing.  I was going to put their names on the eggs or their initials but that seemed to easy also.  I ended up numbering them again and then assigning each child one number.  It worked out great.  The kids had a fun time hunting for their numbers and helping each other. 

I made miniature brownies with cream cheese frosting and raspberries on top for dessert.  This was the second batch of brownies and I had barely minutes to spare before I had to be at school for the party but it worked out.  I figured they didn’t need a huge dessert on top of their 14 eggs full of candy.

And here is my craft:  a little sock bunny.

This is the version I made for an example.  The ones that the kids made were cuter and they had some different colored ones.  We filled the bottom of a child’s sock with beans, put an elastic around his neck, then stuffed his head with cotton stuffing and another elastic at the top.  We cut the rest of the sock in half for his ears.  Then we added eyes, nose, teeth and tail.  I found felt with adhesive backing in black and white so the eyes and teeth were easy to go on.  The tail (a white pom pom) and nose just needed a little tacky glue and stayed on there fine.  I spent forever putting all the supplies together for these and putting kits together for the kids but it went really smoothly and I think everyone had fun with it.

I also made these cute carrots out of napkins and silverware.

Jack was not cooperating with the camera but at least there is evidence that he is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich again.  After eating two a day for a couple years, he got tired of them and went on a sandwich strike for about a year.  But he realized that he likes jelly again and has been eating jelly sandwiches lately.

After all was said and done, this was one of my favorite parties to do.  I was so glad when it was done but it was satisfying to see the kids have a great party and we now have three cute little sock bunnies to decorate with next year.

Easter 2012

It’s hard to believe it’s been just a little more than a week since Easter.  I went to Tennessee to do some house hunting with Pat and my mom stayed with the kids for a few days last week.  I think it probably felt like more than a few days for her.  Also, I’m not sure if they whined a lot while she was here or if they just saved it all up for me the day everyone left!

Back to Easter…
We had a beautiful day for the Easter Bunny to visit.  I didn’t really hype the Easter Bunny up this year but they knew he was coming.  I wanted to avoid questions such as ‘How does the Easter Bunny get in our house?’ or ‘How does the Easter Bunny know what to bring us?’ or ‘Won’t Tugger try to catch the Easter Bunny?’  I’m not sure about the bunny but Tugger was certainly interested in the chocolate and that was quickly moved to a higher location.

As it was, there were plenty of speculations on how the Easter Bunny does business.  And I’m glad I heard some of them before he arrived.  Jack had pieced some things together from memory and word on the street I guess.  According to Jack, Daddy told him that the Easter Bunny comes through Tugger’s doggy door.  Which is fine (and Pat doesn’t remember saying this) but Jack also believes that the Easter Bunny is mascot sized and I don’t know many mascots that can get through the doggy door.  Thankfully he didn’t question it.

When I mentioned that we were going to set some baskets out for the Easter Bunny to fill, Jack quickly reminded me that the Easter Bunny brings gift bags, not baskets.  Because this is what the Easter Bunny has set out for the last few years I guess.  (We were traveling for Easter last year and the bunny thought it would be easier to conceal gift bags than big baskets.)

So Easter morning arrived and thankfully the Easter Bunny got things straight.  He even realized that he should put the chocolate up high so Tugger wouldn’t eat it.  Because she would if she could.  The kids had fun checking out their gifts and searching for eggs.  That bunny even thought to color code the eggs so they would both get the same amount of jelly beans.

We got to church early for 11am mass, although not as early as we did for Christmas.  Jack and Casey played nicely with their markers and paper before mass began and then were very well behaved during church.  The choir sang beautifully and there was a wonderful solo after communion.  I was happy to have spent Easter at our own church this year and will miss it next year.

After church, there was an egg hunt.  We forgot baskets but luckily Jack remembered some reusable bags I keep in the glove compartment and Casey pulled all her hair trinkets out of her “hair bag” to use.  The field was full of eggs.  I don’t even know if there were enough kids to collect all the eggs.  In the end they turned their overflowing baskets reusable bags/hair bags of eggs in for huge piles of candy.  Jack said, “This is just as good as Halloween!” while I wondered how much of it I could reallocate to the garbage can.

We had a pretty good dinner – bone-in pork roast and roasted veggies.  The roast was difficult to carve around the bones.  Mostly I hacked at it until I got some meat and served it.  Veggies were delicious.  And dessert was decent – strawberry chocolate tart.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Easter Sunday trip to the carnival.  You all have that tradition too, right?  I was hoping the kids would forget about the carnival but since we drove by it on Saturday and learned that it closed on Sunday, they begged and begged to go before it would close.  And so we spent an enjoyable hour at the carnival on Easter Sunday before dinner.  The rap music didn’t really bring to mind resurrection but I’m sure the carnies had already done their worshipping.  The kids had a great time on their three rides and I even went on the teacup ride with them…which is totally not my cup of tea.  We played one game and lost but Jack has had pretty charmed carnival experiences so far because he claimed that he “always wins a prize” and was disappointed that he didn’t.

And so that’s how we celebrated our Easter!


Easter Blog Post Delay

Coming soon…

There is a nice Easter post coming soon.  I wrote a long post tonight and lost my internet connection in the middle of it.  When I refreshed the page, I had lost half of what I had written and I don’t have the heart to rewrite it tonight!

Casey’s Ambition & A Sunny Spring Sunday

In the car a few days ago, Casey asked me, “Mommy, how old are you when you’re a grownup?”

I said, “18…Well, somewhere between 18 and 25.”  Then I asked her if she wanted to be a grownup and she said she did.  
When I asked her why she wanted to be grown up, she said, “I want to be in the Olympics and win a gold medal in figure skating.”
We decided we better start with some skating lessons next winter.
Today was a beautiful Sunday so I grabbed the big camera tried to capture a little bit of the fun the kids were having outside.  I thought I would get some impromptu shots but everyone wanted to pose today.  The other little boy is our neighbor and he and Casey played together all afternoon.  I think she was excited to be the older child for a few hours…a little change of pace from being Jack’s little sister.  And yes, she was wearing two hats in most of these pictures.