June 26, 2012

Free For All

Another title for this post could be: I SHOULD BE PACKING, but that would be admitting I'm not using my time wisely...

Free for all summer days it is:  Champ finished up his school year last week and his summer camp director job doesn't start until next week.  My adorable work ended last week as well

                                 miss you, M!

which means we have a few free days on our hands!  Do you really think I will spend them blogging?  I mean I love you and all, but still... 
I leave you with a super quick hashing out of this week (almost all on my good 'ol Powershot point and shoot):

 Bear had his very first Vermont sleep over with friends.  He's stayed in Pennsylvania on his own before with grandparents or godparents, but this was his very first one on our turf- a big deal. Oh my, does that mean he's growing up?  don't answer.

A fun friend stopped by for a few days visit- you knew I'd post something about it, right E?!

We introduced Bear and Ace to the wonders of Six Flags Great Escape.

(blurry family shot is my favorite of the day- thank you kind stranger)

We closed the park down, thus confirming the boys were fans.  Champ and I also discovered Bear has a love of speed and height on amusement park rides... just like his Mama.

Until we meet again, be good and Happy Summer.

June 21, 2012

As for strawberry processing...

it got done: spread over a few days, interlaced with pauses and a few antics, but every berry is accounted for and all our hands (and mouths) are stained scarlet to prove it.

This year I tried out a new strawberry jam recipe (didn't use the lemon zest)  and Bear tried to fit in the kitchen sink.  It lasted a good 45 minutes before his legs went numb and he realized he's grown since last year.  I should mention it was nice having company at eye level while I canned, even if said company was naked.

Trot is another one I couldn't keep out of the water if I tried.  He constantly has that wild, happily posessed dog look in his eye as he rolls on his back after a good swim in the lake... 

and so it seems, all these daily moments add up to the exciting reminder that summer is here... officially.

Bear and I celebrated the Equinox with a picnic of peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches and chocolate pudding, while I continued with my goal (of the fun variety) by setting the manual AND self timer buttons on my camera.  On the first try I got what you see above: not great, but useable- I am pleased as punch- clearly noticed by the wild, happily possessed look in this novice photographer's eye.

Bring it on, Summer!

June 18, 2012

It ends with a recipe. Promise...

Gotta practice what you preach right?  So, as my previous post dictated, I ignored housework and even gardening this weekend in order that I could spend more time on other, way more fun things.
Things like: strawberries, Champ, meeting up with a bloggy friend (more on that later) and an engagement party.  

This morning I'm trying to remind myself of that as I step over dust bunnies and ignore the dishes in the sink and strawberry juice on the floor.  The athlete in me tells me that practicing is always harder than the actual race... focus on the positive TJ!  Focus on your growth!  Right, right, on to strawberries...

Strawberry picking is a bit of a tradition for us.  We seem to have gotten skilled at the process because when it's a good berry season, we can pick 50lbs of strawberries in 2 hours.  "We" meaning mostly Champ since his picking skills are way better than mine.

I spent quite a bit of my time fiddling with my camera during our outing

but I mean, if one of my goals this summer is to get better with my Rebel, then shouldn't I be practicing?  I was just blabbering on about practicing a few moments ago...

and there are so many things to practice on this camera.  So many things...

Eventually, we did make it home and the daunting process of WHAT TO DO??!!!!! with all these strawberries began. Since it was Father's Day, an immediate dessert was in order.  After gathering the troops for a documentary photo (oh so willingly posed for)

I scrambled to the dirty kitchen, cut a sleeve of phyllo dough in to squares, brushed them with a sugar egg wash, put them in the oven @ 400* for 15 minutes

and made a frozen vanilla mousse:
2 egg whites
1/2C sugar 
2C heavy cream
2t vanilla
vanilla bean (optional)
~beat egg whites until foamy, slowly add in 1/4C of the sugar and continue beating until whites hold their peaks.  Set aside.  Whip the cream, slowly adding in the remaining 1/4C sugar until it barely holds soft peaks.  Stir in the vanilla and add in scrapings from vanilla bean, then fold in egg whites.  Freeze. - adapted from Fannie Farmer

Then we invited our neighbor over for dinner

and a fatherly, summerly dessert topped off with...

*yay S!  You are finally on the blog ;)

June 14, 2012

Not such a green Mama

What in the world are green smoothies?  I asked myself this as I was trolling around Pinterest for Papa's Day ideas trying to navigate the glasses of green looking milkshakes that were everywhere.  The green followed me: magazines in the checkout aisle, on the menu at the bagel shop... what in the world were they?

I found our Papa craft and set to it with Bear, but for some reason the green conundrum stuck with me.  What should I be knowing that I don't?  Pinterest is a great resource, but sometimes it leaves me feeling unsuccessful.  I look on there for Montessori ideas and there are people teaching their 2 year old Latin.  I need guidance from it for how to use up my fusilini pasta for dinner and I discover someone has created a masterpiece of art out of dried noodles; it seems creative networks are a double edged sword for me.

I forget about the green drink for a while as I dive into my salad.  This is the time of year when I love love love salads because our CSA has started up and my garden is blooming; meaning I have my pick of greens, kale, spinach, and arugula... topped with feta, olives, and walnuts any combination of the stuff tastes out of this world.  So much so that I don't even join Bear for ice cream.

 Later on, I finally get around to researching green smoothies and I am dumbfounded.  It seems the very definition of them are what Bear and I enjoy on a regular basis: I just call it "blending up  the kitchen leftovers".  WHO KNEW?!

 (a soon to be green smoothie along with my other favorite green drink of the summer- that Bear does not get to sample)

This is what I want to tell you and me: don't worry about bucket lists or getting to the museum or picking enough strawberries for jam this summer.  Don't force yourself to complete some home improvements or pick up a new hobby.  Don't feel the need to go to every picnic.  Don't compare yourself to anyone, or anything else.

Self expectations are suffocating and summer is too short.  I may not think I make green smoothies, but I got my own thing going on.  You do too, we just need to acknowledge it sometimes.  To trust it.   

So then, my only summer goal is to try and be honest to myself and my family (and maybe not search too much on Pinterest).  What is yours?

June 12, 2012

Montessori Timeline

Since I was recently lamenting about how quickly time FLIES, it seems only appropriate that today I write about timeLINES.  Montessori timeline activities help pin down our days and linger on memories- a very welcome habit if you ask me and a bit magical too since it seems to slow down passage of time, if only for a second.

This timeline activity is a bit like scrapbooking in that you collect up a bunch of photos and then arrange them together.  I gathered up a cross section of pictures from Bear's first 3 years: there were about 4 pictures in each year range.  Each one had significant meaning for Bear and each were numbered on the back from 0-3 to correspond with the age he was in the picture.

I then took a LOOOOONG strip of material and labeled it from 0-3.  Throughout our days I would unroll the material strip and tell Bear his life story as I laid down the pictures.  Eventually he began to lay down the pictures while I told him of events and finally he could do the whole process himself.  If  he got stuck on a photo he could use the numbers on the back to self correct where they belonged.

Once he had mastery, we were ready to practice public speaking (ie. telling his story to anyone who would listen!) by creating his permanent life story poster.

A bit of glue, some taping of paper and now his timeline is hung on the fridge and cherished as a conversation starter.  But there's one problem, lingering on memories can be bittersweet, especially when pictures like this

blink back at me.  Time sure flies, and babies growing up can be a bit hard on their Mamas...

June 08, 2012


See now, it's a good thing that I'm not a fancy big blog with thousands of followers and sponsors to keep me accountable; if that were the case, I would never be able to do what I am doing today.  Today I was planning on giving you a Montessori update on some of Bear's projects but...

I checked my in-box this morning to discover my Dad had sent a few wedding snapshots my way.  Since both Champ and I have been harrassed asked at every turn, by every possible person to cough up some wedding pictures, I switched gears for today's post.  

Without further ado...

                leading the way for the new Mr. and Mrs. W

       My wonderful father-in-law and P, a favorite groomsman of Bear's.  Can you guess why?!

 Ahh, what a good time.  

Did you find it odd that my Dad took pictures and was therefore, at the wedding?  Let me explain- I began dating Champ when his brother, this wedding's groom, was SIX!!!  Not only have I known D for what feels like eternity, my parents have too.  Weddings like this one show me how very blessed I am to have such a firm structure of family, and extended family.  It is a beautiful, and rare thing for sure.

*thanks for the pictures Dad*

June 05, 2012

Simple Man

How fast time flies.  I tried to pause and take it all in, but my brother in law D's wedding has already passed and I am still pulling memories from an empty reception hall. A hall where only just days ago, a bride and groom so very important to me began their life together.  I know there were gorgeous words said, a stunning bride to admire, a pretty cute (if I do say so myself) ring bearer, and lots of relatives and friends gathered to celebrate the day. 

 I can remember sitting down in a quite moment to nurse Ace at the reception and hearing Shinedown's version of "Simple Man" (if you have boys, don't click that link unless you are prepared for a flood of emotions) while D danced with his Mama.  I cried long and hard right there in that dark corner of the hall because that song, those lyrics get me every time.  They get me when Lynyrd Skynyrd sings them and they got me with Shinedown too.  I hugged Ace in a little tighter and gazed at D.

He was 11 when Champ and I got married.  This weekend, with Champ by his side as best man and Bear as ring bearer, he crossed the threshold- in my mind at least- from sweet, youngest brother into strong, supportive man with a wife and family: a "simple man" for all the virtuous reasons those lyrics list.

Congratulations to you, D and A.  Long live the life of a simple man where "all that you need is in your soul."

I clicked my camera only a few times this weekend, and only during rehearsal: weddings are not a place where I can focus on my photography, I'd much rather bask in the love and deep words and symbolism of the day.  Some moments though, even professional photographers can't understand and therefore don't capture.  Moments like this...

it seems the wedding impacted my nieces as well, but in a whole different way.  Oh girlies, it is good to dream, but please don't get married too very soon- your emotional auntie would never recover.

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