Blackberry Jelly

There is a segment on PBS Kids where Ms. Rosa take the kids to a grocery store, they ask “where does all this food come from?”  The segment continues with the stocker showing them that it “comes from the back room”.  That makes me sad…maybe in a small sense it does..but food comes from a farm, a plant in the ground, or an animal, from God’s resources.  Food isn’t a complex out of reach item you have to go buy from a big concrete store.  I am a afraid we are raising a generation of kid who have no idea where food comes from!  As parents, grandparents, caretakers we need to teach kids…I dont think we all have to have a huge garden and can everything…but visit a farmers market, go to a pick your own orchard, grow a tomato or squash plant.    Learn, have fun….

This week we picked blackberries from our own patch and Isaac was big enough to help make jelly.  I did the super hot parts (filling jars and water bathing them).  Look for his very own jars at the fair!

My boys know that blackberries start out as white blooms on the thorny bushes, then grow into green, then pink, then black berries.  They then learned you wash ’em, cook ’em, mush ’em, strain ’em, and add a lot of sugar…and you get jelly.  Its really quite simple…and not much  beats a toast with still warm jelly from berries that had dew on them a few hours before.  Only thing better would have been homemade bread and homemade butter…but thats a post for another day..I AM a mom of 3 boys afterall… 🙂

 

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End of our first “Summer Break”

 

So schools been back in for a few weeks now.  We’re starting to fall into routine.  Days are getting shorter, that breeze is a little cooler, the leaves are starting to rustle…school is back in, summer is over, I’m starting to want to make all things pumpkin.

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Summer break went well, it wasnt the scrapbook-esque vision I had in mind in May, but we had some lovely moments.  We had some not so lovely moments too, but lets not blog about all those.  We only want the highlights reel online right?  

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We did summer reading program, we happily turned in our reading log with our 15 books, which paled in comparison to the kids with hundreds of books..but we enjoyed ourselves, enjoyed the programs.  Had a good time, read a few books, saw a few great presentations.  Magic show, mad scientist, Kindermusic, made straw rockets and launched them, saw some cool science experiments.

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We did some gardening…we picked beans, we canned beans.  We picked and shucked a LOT of corn.  We did tomatoes.  We picked and put up blackberries.  We fried and froze okra.  We ate and pickled squash.  We shelled and canned beans and peas.  We let the laundry and toys pile up while we worked on the garden stuff.  We got stressed over the mess, but we got through.

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We had VBS at church.  We learned about some weird animals.  We’re still singing the songs.  Right after VBS we went right into birthday parties…all 3 of them, not including the mini parties to make their days special.  Right after birthday parties, while still amid the mess of wrapping paper and rearranged furniture we went right into getting ready for school. 

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Now, schools in.  Its September.  We’re having math tests and spelling words and reading homework.  We’re starting preschool at home with James.  

All in all summer was good.  I wish we would have worked on more “stay in practice” work.  I wish we would have had less stare at the TV days.  I wish we would have played outside more.  But life is life, schedules and plans are made to be broken.  Now we’ll focus on doing our best in first grade and enjoying the fall…I forsee apple picking, pumpkin patch, hiking trips, Dutch Oven cooking, and days that Im not going to blog about thrown in there too.  😉 

Lego Party

We recently had the boys birthday party in a Lego theme.  After months of browsing Pinterest, here is how we put ours together.

First of all, I wanted the boys to have custom shirts.  Being a DIYer…I made them.   I found a pattern online for the pieces and appliquéd them on.  I had my mother in law embroidery the features, number on the lego man, and their names.  It was a relatively easy project, just a bit “fussy” and Im not an appliqué fan but I was pleased with the results.   Boys loved them.

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For invitations,  I printed info on cardstock and drew 6 circles on outside.   Im sure you could be fancier but it worked and kids got the idea. (Thought I took a pic…oh well…)

For decorations….
I used Lego colors for all the tablecovers.   I found a “lego bump” template online which I printed on various colors and then cut to various sizes, I placed them in clusters on tables and wall. 

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I used clear jelly jars filled with Duplos to weigh down balloons.(see later pic)   I printed a Lego man outline on yellow paper for signs for gift table labels.

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For games…
We played Guess How Many Legos in the jar.

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We had color a lego person (which was a flop, no one cared lol)

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And we had Legos and Duplos for free play.

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For food….
I had mini sandwiches made on rolls.  Chips.  Veggie tray.  And water and juice boxes,  I found a juice box template online I just printed and wrapped around boxes.  For water I printed a face on yellow and cut to fit.

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And cake….I sent our beloved cake lady some ideas and a box of Legos and we got this amazing creation.

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For part favors, which I forgot to photograph,  we bought a bulk bag of mixed Legos online and sent each kid home with a little baggie. 

We had a great party.  It was done pretty frugally,  Legos were biggest expense,  but we considered it part of their gifts.  I had fun planning…next year….maybe superheroes…

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Dear Isaac…

Dear Isaac,
Today you turn 6!  I need two hands to show your age now.  When did you get so big on me?!

You are our oldest.  Our first miracle.  You taught us so much. You’ve always had your own plans in life.  And as exasperating as that is sometimes I hope you continue marching to your own drum. Your traits that frustrate me most sometimes will one day be your greatest strength.

You came into this world defying odds.  Babies your size dont always come out screaming and as full of life as you did.  All 2lb 14oz of you.  I didnt know then how scared I should have been, all I knew was that I was finally a mama.  I spent your first day of life missing you terribly.  You were two weeks old before I held you. But I loved you from the first moment.  You were so handsome and tiny.  I didnt care about the tubes and wires, just that you looked a little like me, but were tall like your Daddy.   We were a family of three.

They day you came home was an amazing day!  63 days you were away from us.  I was so happy to have you home with us.  It was a little scary but we got by.  You made me and your Daddy grow up.  We had to be the adults.  You taught us that.

Today you are about to start first grade.  You are so smart, way smarter than you show people even.  You are so full of life.  And a whole lot stubborn, but I figure stubborn is what got you through the NICU and through a lot of life’s trials.

Being the oldest sometimes you have to share a lot of things. Sometimes you get “forgotten” when your brothers cause trouble.  But know you are never forgotten, and you are loved just as much.  You are special.  You are the oldest which has a big role, you have to set an example.  Its tough, I know, I’m the oldest, but you can handle it.  You can handle anything.

Happy Birthday, Isaac Terry, my big boy, my first baby.  Mama loves you a whole lot.

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Dear Thomas….

Dear Thomas,
Today you turn one.  We’ve spent a whole year with you in our arms now.

You are our third son.  You are our baby.  You are most likely our last child.  You are an answer to a complicated prayer.  When your two brothers were born so early, I prayed to God to remove the longing from my heart for a third child, or to give us a “happy accident” because I couldnt make the choice myself to risk baby number three.  God chose the latter.  He chose to show me that He was still in charge and working miracles.  When I had so much trouble conceiving your brothers, God chose to give you me by surprise.  It was scary.  I had to go through a few things to ensure you “stayed put” but God was in control.  And you were born happily healthy, full term, and got to come straight to my arms.

You spent your first night sleeping beside me, and for the past year you’ve never left that spot.  I love that you love me so much (remind me that at midnight tonight ok? ;-)) that you never want to leave my side.  You are a mama’s boy.  It makes my heart swell. Dont be mistaken, your brothers are sweeties too, but you have always had a special preference for me and it makes me smile amid the exhaustion.

You are my big boy.  My “Monster Baby”.  You will always be my baby.  You will always be my special boy.  I am so thankful that God decided to give you to me.  I am so thankful that I have you and can’t imagine life without you.  Happy FIrst Birthday, Thomas William.  Mama loves you

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Fifth Week of Summer Break

Still lots of garden stuff this week.  We dug potatoes.  Boys were good little potato pickers.  Muddy bath water that night but that’s a sign of a good summer day for country boys.

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Picked and put up corn.  Homestyle cream style is our favorite.  Boys also did a fair job shucking corn.  They love corn so we are making sure we put up plenty.

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We didnt have library program this week so we did an experiment of our own.  We did “little explosions”.  Basically dropped dropper fulls of colored vinegar on a plate of baking soda.  It was a hit.

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The 4th is big for us because the last 8 years, hubby has done our community show.  Its nothing professional, just small town USA at it’s finest.  We put a peanut butter jar up at THE store (tiny gas station) and community donates to THEIR show.  We take money to a generous supplier who gives us a deal to stretch our money.   People come and sit on tailgates and enjoy.   Show lasts about 15 minutes.  I’m proud of my hubbys hard work and planning,  he does a great job.  He has a few volunteers of fellow volunteer firefighters but basically on the 4th we don’t see too much of him.
The Master at work…

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But the hard work pays off.  Great crowd and great donations so I think others agree,
The goods.

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The crowd.

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His biggest fan..

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Show was beautiful…

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Now were recovered and back to gardening.  These pintos won’t shell themselves.   However luckily I can do that job indoors, as it appears summer is here.

Parting shot of my 3 little firecrackers.

Fourth Week of Summer Break

Country life has slowed down some of our summer adventures as garden is maturing and we’ve been canning a lot.  Today we are finishing up the last of the green beans.  This will give us about 40 quarts in our pantry.  Canning is a new challenge with my 3 “helpers” but they’ll grow up appreciating this “art” and the skill and importance of self sustainability.

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I want my children to grow up knowing food doesn’t come “from the back room of the grocery store” (as a PBS clip tells them).  Food comes from farms of all sizes and its important to know how to feed your family yourself.  

In addition to green beans we are having a bumper crop of blackberries.   Jelly, berries in syrup, and a cobbler have been made with many more berries to come.

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We did make it to the library this week, we didnt spend all our time on the farm.  They learned about rockets and made and launched their own.

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The big boys got long overdue summer hair cuts. 

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Mom did some sewing and the boys got to try out the capes I made for a customer.

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We had plenty of outside play.  We had a family reunion.   We enjoyed some fireworks.

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This next week proves to be full.  Working on garden stuff.  Celebrating the 4th.  Now off to finish my beans before my helpers get into them.