Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh Yeah!

I’m so excited.  I found about fourteen blooming and almost ready to bloom Jack-in-the-Pulpits today!  What amazingly cool looking plants!  Their camouflage is so great that they just blend into the surround scenery.  


I also found other blooming wildflowers and one really cool looking mushroom.

Shooting Star
Cool mushroom
I was having so much fun taking pictures and was so into my own little world that I did not noticed another person also enjoying the trails.  I look up, did a slight jump and made a squeak, then started laughing.  I politely apologized and told the fellow that I was looking for plants not people.  He just laughed and continued along the trail.  Well you never know what you will find along the trails of a nature center, maybe a crazy plant taking amateur photographer like me!  ;-) 

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Flowers Keep Coming

This year has been amazing for taking pictures of spring wildflowers.  I have been pretty pleased so far.  I do think I have missed my window for capturing Trout Lily this year, but there is always next year.  

I have seen some lovely Prairie Trillium.
Hoards of Toothwort.
Lovely bluebells!
Jack-in-the-Pulpit foliage.

Jack-in-the Pulpit is my next desired plant to capture.  I did see one blooming last week at the local nature center, but when I went back with my camera someone had picked it.  I found a few other patches and will return this week to see if any flowers have emerged.

In the next few weeks I hope to catch buttercups, phlox, shooting stars, larkspur, and a few other delightful plants. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Two Sides of Easter

Today is Easter.  Pumpkin was the first child to wake up and of course he wanted to rush to his Easter Basket.  I told him that he would need to wake princess and daddy up first, so we could all enjoy the baskets together. 

Princess & Pumpkin's Easter Baskets

He immediately went to his sister’s door and started yelling “GET UP!!  GET UP!!”  Thankful, she was not upset by this and crawled out of her bed with her beloved puppy.  Then I ushered them into our bedroom and they both climbed up on the bed and pounced on daddy.  Daddy pretended to be asleep for a while, and then they were able to rouse him up. 

Discovering the full baskets!

Everyone headed for the sunroom next and pumpkin looked at both the baskets, then with a puzzled look he asked “Which one is mine?”  I asked, “Which one did you pick out yesterday?”  He said “This one!”  I agreed and he swooped up his basket and sat on the floor.  Princess was a bit slower on the uptake and joined him a few minutes later. 

Princess's little puppy
The Easter Bunny was good this year.  He must have been impressed that pumpkin had cleaned his room and the sunroom the day before (which is a miracle in itself).  They both received one DVD, one small animal figurine, a toy, and fourteen Easter eggs. 

The breakfast of champions!

Once princess figured out how to open the eggs, she started chowing down on some mini Oreos for breakfast.  She was enjoying her treasures so much that we had a bit of difficulty getting into the highchair for breakfast.

Pumpkin is excited about his goodies!

Pumpkin on the other hand, started sorting through his eggs.  He kept the eggs with chocolate, gave princess the eggs with colored marshmallow bunnies and chicks, and gave me all of the eggs with mini Oreos and mini teddy grahams. 

After breakfast, we were off to church.   Before the service pumpkin, princess, daddy, and I explored the flowers on the altar.  There were white Easter lilies and orange, yellow, red and purple tulips.  It was really breath taking.  We talked about the colors and names of the different flowers with the kids.

During the children’s time, pastor talked about the special visitor that came to everyone’s houses and then talked about Jesus.  Every child left the altar with an Easter book and of course a pouch of snacks then headed off to the toddler room.  We read our new books before nap time.  

Open mommy!

After we got up we went over the grandma’s house for Easter supper and an Easter egg hunt.  This year for Easter are numbers are small just grandma, my sister, and my family.  We had poor boys, potato salad, carrots, rolls, and strawberry shortcake for supper.  It sure was delicious!  After supper, we went outside for the egg hunt.  Pumpkin had the upper hand, so I helped princess out.  I would pick her up and jogging to the next egg before brother took them all. 

A very happy camper!

My mom loved all of the holidays.  Last year, even though she knew it maybe her last holiday, she tried to go all out.  We were all together at grandma’s house: grandma and grandpa, mom and my step-dad, my brother and his family, my sister and her husband, and my family.  It was a several day celebration.  We had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard, a wonderful Saturday supper and an Easter brunch.  Mom had treats, crafts, Easter bonnets for the girls, and so much more.  My only regret of that weekend is that we never thought about having a family picture with everyone together.

Easter is amazing and joyful, but at the same time sad.  It is amazing that God loves us so much that He gave the ultimate sacrifice of His son, Jesus.  And because of this sacrifice we will receive everlasting life.  This year that promise means so much more to me.  This is the first Easter without grandpa and mom, but through that promise it means that I will see them again some day.  I am sad because I still miss them both so much, but it is amazing that through their memories and our family bonds that my step-dad was baptized and joined the church today on Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Favorite Holiday

Easter season has almost come to a close.  So I thought that I would delve on my favorite holiday.  You are probably thinking at this point that Easter is my favorite holiday.  In a way it is part of my favorite holiday.  My favorite holiday is actually the non-commercialized holiday of Maundy Thursday.  It is one of those religious holidays that are not celebrated with much fanfare, but to me it is amazing and unique.

Trillium reminds me of the Trinity- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit

What is Maundy Thursday?  It is the day that commemorates the Last Supper.  Even though Jesus knew what lay ahead of him, He took the time to commune with His disciples.  He showed them how much He and his Father loved them and loved us.  As an expression of that love, He taught the disciples what we now call communion.  Isn’t God amazing!

One of my favorite Maundy Thursday memories was from my old country church.  It was the last Maundy Thursday service before the church closed, so it would fell on the evening of April 13, 2006.  Instead of having the service in the sanctuary, it was held in the basement (which was small by most church standards).  There were four tables set-up in a “u” shape.  We ate by candlelight and we were served several courses of foods that may have been typical during the Passover.  I remember that we ate bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and grape juice.  I think there may have been a few other items, but they escape me at this point.  We ate a solemn meal with each course being presented one at a time with the meaning of what that course represented.  At the end our pastor led us through Holy Communion and we partook of the bread and cup.  To me experiencing what the Last Supper may have been like gave me a new perspective on the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s amazing love, and humanized the disciples. 

One day I hope for pumpkin and princess to experience this amazing holiday for themselves.  It will be several years down the road, but I look forward to the time they can stay up to experience a Maundy Thursday service.  Until then we will celebrate the true meaning of Easter as well as tradition of the Easter Bunny.

Pumpkin is looking forward to the Easter Bunny’s arrival and princess on the other hand has not quite caught on yet.  Pumpkin cleaned his room this morning, since the Easter Bunny only leaves treats for children with clean rooms.  Then I allowed him first choice of the two handmade Easter baskets that I made for my little ones.  Pumpkin choose the lighter of the two baskets, so princess will get the darker basket.  We will place pumpkin and princess’s Easter baskets on a table in our sun room this evening and then all go to bed in hopes that the elusive Easter Bunny will drop in and leave a few treats while we sleep.

God is Great!  My wish for all who read this post is a Happy & Safe Easter Weekend! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Life and Thoughts

Pink tulip
I sure do enjoy spring.  Although, I could skip the cold spring rains and the muddy landscape at times.  I do enjoy the trees as they leaf out and the continued blessings of spring wildflowers.  I especially delight in the warming of the air and rays of the sun. 

Trees leafing out and flowering in the orchard
Spending more time taking pictures in the past few months has been a blessing and quite relaxing.  Earlier this week, I was able to capture some lovely shots of the moon in the early evening.  I have also been on a mission to photograph spring wildflowers.  I have seen bluebells, dutchman’s breeches, trillium, trout lily, tulip, hyacinth, violets, among other beautiful flowering specimens in the last few days. 

Lunar glimpse
This week during my photographic adventures I have seen a black rat snake, cricket frogs, bullfrogs, cardinals, tufted titmice, chickadees, gaggles of Canada geese, and many more creatures large and small.  I caught my first frog of the season yesterday- a very muddy but amazing cricket frog.  The call of the male cricket frog reminds me of two marble clinking together.   A sure sign that spring is in full swing! 

Spring beauties
I have not done a lot of new cooking lately, but this evening I am trying two new recipes:  Slow-Cooker Short Rib Stroganoff and Rustic Chocolate-Cinnamon Bread Pudding.  I hope they warm the family up on this chilly, wet spring day.  Both recipes sound delightful and I have been looking forward to making the bread pudding recipe for a few weeks now. 

Dutchman's breeches
I have materials for another Easter basket and I am hoping to create my second basket tomorrow.  Thank goodness I took notes and pictures a few weeks ago during the basket workshop because this time it will be a solo project.  This prospect is both exciting and a bit intimidating, so I am hoping that all runs smoothly.

It is nap time right now.  Princess is fast asleep and Pumpkin can be heard talking and singing from his bedroom.  It seems we are getting closer to phasing out naps in his case and Princess is taking shorter naps too, but it is still good for them to have quite time.  Quite time is great for recharging the mind, promoting imaginary play, and just relaxing.  Even after naps are phased out, we will continue to have quiet time just to veggie out by ourselves and to give everyone a short break to just be. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Time for a Change

The flowers are blooming. 
And the weather is become warmer. 
Spring beauties
It is time to think about packing away the winter clothes. 
It is time to unearth the spring and summer apparel.

 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Pumpkin and Princess will be moving up to the next size in clothing within the next few months.  I find it is always so much more enjoyable to wade through the children’s clothes than my own.  Children grow so fast that is really is a shame to pay full price for clothes just to play in.  We have clothes that we have bought new, clothes that have come from garage sales, and my favorite . . . hand-me-down clothes. 

We have been working with Pumpkin on learning how to dress himself.  He has been able to undress himself for a very long time now, but has never wanted to master the skill of getting dressed.  He is one of those children that if he can get someone else to do it, then why do it himself.  He still needs some assistance with putting socks on, and has overcome the challenge of putting the shirt over his head (which would reduce him to tears).  But overall, he is doing a great job and we are very proud of him.

With short season coming on, we will also start working on potty training Princess.  It is so much easier to train while they are wearing light weight clothing.  We have the training pants ready and waiting.  I’ll think that we will wait until after Easter, then we will start work on our new goal to become a diaper free household.

The wardrobe of my husband and I usually do not get updated too frequently.  It is so hard to think about buying clothes for yourself when your children need clothes too.  Thus we fall into the typical parent attribute . . . always putting ourselves on the backburner.

I think this summer I will try to wear shorts more often.  Growing up, I use to wear shorts everyday from the time it was warm in the spring until it was cold in the fall.  The house we lived in did not have air conditioning, so we spent as much time outside as we could growing up.  It wasn’t until college that I lived in a place with air conditioning and then my job required long pants at all times so I adapted to not wearing shorts at all.  I think it is time to break my long pants habitat and have fun in the sun again with shorts.  Of course this means that I will need to get a few more pairs of shorts that fit.  I feel some “me time” lurking around the corner.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Joy of a Basket

Who would have known that basket weaving would 
be so much fun!  I had so much fun at the 
workshop making my very first basket. 

The project was an eight by six inch Easter basket.   
Materials included a wooden handle, reeds, sea grass, 
and spray sealant.  Tools included clippers, a ruler, 
a pencil, a whole lot of clothespins, a small screwdriver, 
tubs of water, towels, and me.

I brought my camera along and snapped pictures 
whenever I got a chance and remembered.

First few rows and the base

Starting to look more like a basket

Adding some color

Ready to start the finishing touches

Trimming and tucking

Added sea grass

Binding the top

Just needs the sealant

All done & home sweet home

 My first basket took me three hours, but I am sure to 
improve on my time for my next venture into basket making.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dr. Seuss and All That Jazz

During the summer of 2009 my mom had obtained a treasure trove of sixteen Dr. Seuss books at a garage sale and stored them away.  Grandma found the books and gave them to us shortly after mom past away this past fall.  As with any loss of a loved one, it takes time to be able to dig out personal items that have connections to the loved one as was the case here.  

Last week I rediscovered those books when I was tidying up our basement.  Pumpkin has fallen in love with quite a few of the books.   

His favorite one of the bunch is Green Eggs and Ham.  I think this fits my son perfectly; he absolutely hates to try any new foods.  It cracks me up that he enjoys the book so much and wants the character to eat the green eggs and ham, but he will not do the same thing.  Spaghetti- Forget about it!  Homemade macaroni and cheese- Nope!  Hamburger- No way!  Carrots- Yuck!  I know with time, he will warm up to new foods, but at times it can be a challenge to us parents.

Another favorite of Pumpkin is Bears In the Night.  He likes to help me read this book.  “Out of bed”  “To the window” “Down the tree”  I have him fill-in the underlined words and pick different ones throughout the book.  If he needs help, I point to the object.  He has lots of fun with this book and loves the source of the mysterious noise.

His first vivid enjoyment of Dr. Seuss inspired books was Go. Dog. Go!.   He fell in love with this book when he was 18 months old.  We were visiting family along the west coast and they had a copy of this book on their shelf.  We read it almost every day during our visit.  He could quote parts of the “Do you like my hat?” pages.  As soon as we arrived home, I ventured up to a locally owned family store and bought a copy for my little pumpkin.

Princess is not quite as impressed with Dr. Seuss yet.  A few books she gave up on quite early in the reading process (One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish), but seems to enjoy In A People House and The Cat and The Hat

I like Dr. Seuss books for a variety of reasons- some teach lessons, some have funny rhymes, my favorite aspect is the illustrations, and best of all they are just fun!