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 🙂


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!


Playing with Photo Booth

I just spent way too much time trying to figure out how to upload photos to blogger from iPhoto on my new computer.  Sadly I think it was exactly the same way I used to but I didn’t scroll down enough to see the Media button that I needed.  But now I don’t have it in me to write the post I was going to so I’ll prove that I can upload photos.
There is a fun Photo Booth program (app?) on our computer that lets you take all kinds of fun pictures.  Jack, Casey and I have had a blast in the last couple days taking funny pictures of ourselves.  Finding something that makes all three of us laugh hysterically is pretty great…something I should remember to do on those days that aren’t going so well!
 So we have my alien children…

The chipmunk family…

I think we are a frog family here…

This one is called blockhead but I’m going to say it transforms us into Klingons pretty well.  Just need a few more ridges in our foreheads…

This is the mirror function.  Jack worked pretty hard to position himself just right so he has three eyes, two noses and one mouth!

The kids think the mirror is pretty funny but I like this picture because I think it captured how much fun we were having…

Today’s Funnies

Casey coughs.  She says, “Jack do you want some of my germs?”

Jack says, “No thanks, I’m fine with the ones I have.”

“Whose do you have?”, Casey asks.

Jack responds, “I got these from Nana.”

Just a matter of fact conversation on the way home from school today…like germs are clothes or something.  I don’t usually give a lot of thought to germs and they don’t come up in normal conversations but when the kids are sick I mention them and tell them they should try not to share them.  Now Jack is very aware of Casey’s germs and he tries to stay away from them as much as possible.  She lavishes them on him anyway 🙂


Casey got a tiny little porcelain doll from the treasure chest at school today.  (She loves Fridays at school.)  While we were at Subway for lunch she said, “This is a Russian doll.”  I asked her what she meant and she just keeps calling it the Russian doll.  Jack claims that an episode of Dora showed the Russian dolls that nest inside each other.  I’m not sure how Casey connected the two or if she even did.  But the Russian doll is hanging out with the princess royalty at the castle now and I think she’s enjoying her new home.


Funny Summer Memories

Last week, we were driving somewhere and it was dark.  I don’t even remember where we were going but we really don’t leave the house much after dark so it made Casey comment about all the pretty lights.  She wanted to know if there were pretty lights all over the world like this.  I told her there aren’t this many streetlights all over the world…places like where Grammie & Grampie live in Maine don’t have many lights.

This developed into a conversation about the fact that there aren’t many houses by Grammie & Grampie’s house because the two buildings on either side of their house are not houses.  One is my dad’s extra garage.  It used to be a fire station and it is still fire station red.  Jack wanted to know why there were desks and chairs in the upstairs of the fire station and I told him that it used to be a school house before that.  They were kind of fascinated by that for a minute or two and then backtracked a little bit.
Jack said, “There was a fire station when we went to that nut party.”  What?  Nut party?  I had no idea what he was talking about but I hoped I hadn’t missed out on a fun-sounding party.  A nut party and a fire station?  After I composed myself I asked him what he was talking about.  “You know, that one at the school where we used peanuts and then we got to pick out prizes at the end?”  
Ohhh.  It made sense to me at that point.  It was called the Peanut Fair and it is part of the International Festival when we visit Maine in the summers.  We pay a couple dollars for a bag of peanuts and the kids go around and pay a peanut for each game they want to play.  After they play the game they get a coin or two and at the end they “buy” prizes with their coins.  It’s a pretty fun time for the kids.  
And yet there is no fire station near across the street from the elementary school where the Peanut Fair was held.  There is a big garage across the street that kind of looks like a fire station.  And that just makes me marvel at Jack’s memory.  The fact that he remembered some random building in Maine that looked like a fire station to him and then brought it up six months later.
And because I didn’t post any pictures of the peanut fair this summer, I might as well do it now.

My Favorite Christmas Present

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went out to dinner with Pat’s parents before they left town.  We went to Pat and the kids’ favorite restaurant which attached to the mall.  We go there quite often and then we usually stop by the pet store after dinne to look at all the animals.  This time, Nana took the kids into the dollar store as well.  Casey desperately needed some pencils I think.  And then I guess they decided to do a little Christmas shopping.  Both Jack and Casey came out of the store with a bag and a Christmas present they picked out for me.
The first thing Jack wanted to do on Sunday as we were starting our Christmas decorating was to wrap his present.  I got all the wrapping paper out for him, tape and scissors and told him to have at it.  After a little bit of time he asked if he could use some tissue paper instead because he decided it would be easier to put it in a bag.  
After it was in there, I asked if he had labeled it.  He got a piece of paper and wrote out his from and to lines.  Then he asked me if that was a sentence.  I told him it was just a label and he wanted to know what a label was.  There was a wine bottle nearby so I tried to explain it with a wine label.  I think he was satisfied because he was quiet for a little longer.
Then he showed me his bag and he was very proud of it, even if he isn’t smiling in the picture:

He wanted to make sure it had a sentence, so he wrote “You wil like it.”  And I believe I shall because that is the cutest tag on a present ever and I already like it!  Although I’m pretty curious about what’s in the bag but that will have to wait a few more days.  21 actually, according to our 4 countdown calendars.

Soccer Season

Jack’s first soccer season has come and gone and I didn’t document it very well.  I think even the poor quality of the pictures I took is evident of my lack of excitement about it all.  Jack, on the other hand, had a great time.  
Jack loved putting on his shin pads and his cleats.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to tie his soccer shoes so he could go out back and practice or how many nights he waited for Daddy to get home to practice with him.  Casey would run out and be the cheerleader.  
He also loved his team practice before the game…especially when they got to play “Kick the Coach.”  He loved the games.  He ran around and had a great time.  He spent most of the first game getting comfortable and then the second game he figured it out and scored his first goal.  He is pretty good at figuring out where the ball is going to be and trying to get there, although when there is a gaggle of kids all chasing the ball, it’s not all that predictable.  
We missed one game a couple weeks ago when we went to Ocean City for the weekend.  We had planned to go to his game and then get on the road.  The forecast was for rain so they moved the game indoors and it wasn’t until 11am.  I told Jack his game was cancelled and that we would just go to Ocean City after breakfast.  This caused Jack a little concern. 
“What about the gym Mommy?  I thought they would have it in the gym if it was raining.  Remember when we had it in the gym that time?  I wonder if there is something wrong with the gym.  Maybe there’s a leak in the gym and the rain is getting in there.  Mommy, do you think there’s a leak in the gym?  Is that why we’re not playing the game?  They’ll have to get some workers to fix the roof.  I wonder if there’s another gym we can go to.”
Okay, okay, okay!  I had to tell the poor boy the truth and tell him that his game was in fact scheduled for the gym and that it was just too late for us to go to his game and Ocean City.  I didn’t want him having nightmares about the poor gym and it’s leaking roof.
Our last game was last week and Jack scored two goals.  He was very excited about it and did a great job in the game.  The kids all got medals at the end of the game.  Jack was sad to see it end but as I mentioned recently, he’s already moved on to roller blading and hockey!