Monday, April 29, 2013

Strawberry picking, 2013

With this trip to the strawberry fields, it become clear to me that I need to start dating any "Strawberry picking" posts.  Unless I turn half of my garden into a strawberry field, this will be an activity we will be doing every year.  The four of us had a blast this year.

I had one child who thought it was hilarious that he found a strawberry that looked like a "patootie." 

Another who ventured off into the fields by himself, completely filling his own basket for the first time.

And a third who would not stop eating strawberries.

Really, he did not stop.

Rory's red stained face and shirt made everyone laugh as we walked to get strawberry ice cream and visit the rest of the farm.  Looking back at these pictures, I can see why.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Atticus has been working on the camper for some time.  Most free time during nights and weekends have been devoted to the camper since we got it.  Really, it has become much more of a project than we had anticipated.  He replaced parts of the roof, the floor, the counter tops, the table, the plumbing, parts of the electricity, re-did the under carriage, painted the interior, took off the ceiling, insulated... I think it would be harder to think of something he did not do.  Needless to say we were itching to use it.  And last weekend, we finally did on a trip to Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Ga.

It took about 2 hours to get there.  These pictures are at look outs on the way up the mountain.  Someone obviously knew we were coming and had graffitied "Rory is hot" on a guardrail.  

On the way up, I looked at the outside temperature in our rear view mirror.  48.  And this was at about 4 PM.  I then realized we would not be needing the swim suits I had express-ordered for our lake camping trip.  

Aside from Atticus almost breaking his hand un-hitching the trailer, Friday night went pretty smoothly.  We got a fire going, cooked hamburgers and s'mores for dinner, and then it was bedtime.  There is room for a pack-n-play in between the bunks in the back of the trailer, so we put a very bundled Rory to bed first.  Since it was colder than we had anticipated and Atticus was not too excited about using the trailer's propane heater, we tried to put the boys in the same bed to stay warmer.  Jude was way too excited for that.  Eventually, Atticus moved Jude to a top bunk (which he can't really get out of by himself) and every one settled down.  I did not know what a good sleeper Rory had become.  At one point during all of the excitement, Finnan fell into the pack-n-play on top of Rory, and he didn't even stir.  Atticus and I slept in the dinette bed. . . the first night.  I had only brought a sheet and thick quilt for us (did I mention I thought we would be swimming).  But it was really, really cold.  The second night each of us split a twin bunk with one of the older boys so we could share their sleeping bags.  Rory was in two layers of shirts, tight pajama pants, two pairs of socks, fleece footed pajamas, a fleece sleepsack and under a quilt.  I thought it was early when I couldn't take the cold and went to bed at around 8:30.  The second night we were all bundled up in bed at 7.  

Saturday morning it was too hard to get out and start a fire to make the eggs and bacon we had planned, so we started our day with instant oatmeal with hot water from my Keurig (yes, I know, we were not really roughing it.)  Then we layered everyone up for a hike, where we saw an alligator snapping turtle.  

We went on several more hikes over the course of the weekend and hung out around the fire a lot.  Besides our morning oatmeal, we cooked all of our other meals on the fire.  We also saw quite a snake show.  It wasn't the snakes that were so interesting, it was the man who put on the snake show.  He seemed very taken with the idea of the devil and kept telling stories involving evil.  Here is one:  "You know how an alligator kills you?  He doesn't just kill you out right.  He drags you into the water and drowns you.  This is just like the devil.  He will drag you down and kill your spirit and then he will let you loose on the world.  You can learn a lot from an alligator."

The hikes were beautiful.  One of the hikes led to an old stone wall and tower that may have been built by a group of Welsh people back in the 1100s.  Apparently the story is pretty disputed, but still incredible to think about anyone climbing the entire mountain and building a tower up there.

I was so proud of all the boys.  Finnan was such a big help collecting firewood and tending the fire.  I was so impressed (and encouraged) that Jude was able to do all of the hiking himself.  He was even able to finish a hike after taking a scary head first spill on a rock.  And Rory was quite the trooper.  None of the boys seemed phased by the weather (unlike their Mama!) or by the lack of toys or other entertainment.  All of us really were just happy to be hanging out with each other.  I guess I can now say that I "get" camping.  

Another plane ride

During Color Wheel's spring break, the boys and I jetted off to Chicago to visit my extended family.  My cousin Kristen is having her first baby (a boy!) and I wanted to be at the baby shower to share in the excitement.  It had also just been too long since I had seen my Aunt, Uncle, my cousins and the little (some not so little anymore!) ones.  The weather turned out to be not so spring breakish, but that was fine.  It is always so comfortable at my Aunt and Uncle's house, it doesn't matter what is like outside.  All three boys enjoyed so many tickles, wrestling matches, and snuggles while reading.  My cousin Heather's third child, Oliver, was referring to Finnan and Jude as "my boys."  He would say, "Where are my boys?"  While all the boys were playing Heather and I got to chat gardening, canning, composting and more.  Already since I have been home, I have started doing two things I learned from her- making sandwich bread and do-it-yourself dishwasher detergent.  

For the most part we hunkered down and hung out.  But our last day there, we went on a tour of Fair Oaks Dairy Farm in Indiana.  It is a dairy farm with 30,000 cows.  Five months after a cow gives birth, she will become pregnant again and produces milk through 7 months of the 9 month gestation.  With all of those cows, they said about 80 calves are born each day.  We actually got to see a cow in the late stages of labor and then give a boy.  We went on a bus tour which included a viewing of the milking carousel.  Most of the pictures below were from our day at the dairy farm., which meant I did not get any with the soon-to-be mom.  Sigh.
Playing cards at the kids' table.
The milking carousel.

Watching the calf being born.

Loving the air pillow at the farm.

Playing "crack the egg."
And of course every trip to a farm ends with ice cream.
Waiting for the plane.  Finnan insisted on bringing the newspaper he found on the plane as well.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A trip to Weggi and Paw-Paw's

Last month, my mom flew to Atlanta, picked up Finnan and Jude and flew back to Florida with them where they stayed for five days.  Let's just say I was glad I had gotten her a camera phone for Christmas.  At least with regular picture updates I got a glimpse of their daily activities as they were having to much fun to slow down and talk to me for more than a minute.  Along with the plane ride and posing with many characters at the Orlando airport, the boys went to Sea World, the zoo, the Marine Science Center, the beach, a baseball game, and the Manatee nature center.  They also ate some crazy food (shark and gator), played a lot of backyard baseball and managed to do arts and crafts!  These boys are ready to go back to Weggi and Paw-Paw's.  And as Jude kept reminding us before he left, "Mommy and Daddy, you're not coming.  OK?"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Starting seeds

A couple of weeks ago, Finnan and Jude helped me start tomato, eggplant and pepper seeds for the garden.  I had already started 72 seedlings in a more professional looking set-up, but since we still had a ton of seeds, I thought we would give egg cartons a try.  It was cheap, easy, and so far seems like it is working.

Last week, I also did a seed starting activity at The Museum School (where Finnan will be going to Kindergarten).  I worked with two other moms and the children (K thru 2nd grade) to start several varieties of seeds and place them in the windowsills of their classrooms.  If the seeds sprout, we will plant them at the garden and then use the vegetables from those plants to donate food.  The 5th graders may also be writing letters to local groups to see who might be interested in food donations.  It was so much fun to work with the kids and see the school in action.  All of the teachers and students were so receptive and engaged.  I came home feeling pretty excited that Finnan will be in one of those Kindergarten classrooms next year.