Thursday, June 30, 2011

Savoring Summer - Strawberries

There is nothing like biting into a strawberry while juice oozes out the sides of your mouth and drips onto your clothes. The only time that ever happens in Maine is in June. Don't get me wrong, we can purchase strawberries all year long at the local grocery store but not the juicy, dripping, oh so delicious kind.

Naturally, we savor this part of our summer...

who wouldn't? We take the kiddos to Fairwinds Berry Farm in Oxford every summer to pick buckets full of strawberries for freezing, making jam, fruit leather, smoothies, muffins, and anything else we can think of. The littlest ones get a few in their mouths while picking and the older two wait expectantly saying, "I cannot wait to have one when we get home."

Fairwinds is our farm of choice because it keeps in step with our values and ideals. We love supporting local farms and building community through that. Alan met David Knightly (the owner) when he worked at the High School. The farm is completely family run and the strawberries are kept as organic as possible with minimal spray in the spring and absolutely none after the buds form. We feel comfortable there because it has become more than just picking strawberries. Cami conversed with a chicken,

Kalli ran up and down the path exclaiming about the goats, Jeremie stood on an old box just so he could see over the counter to have a conversation with Mrs. Knightly about all the honey, syrup, and treats displayed on the counter, and Kaylynn watched intently as Mr. Knightly taught her how to wink both eyes.

While picking, I couldn't help but glance up every few seconds to watch my kiddos. They were so diligent searching for the perfect strawberry. Then running to daddy, "Come look at this one before I pick it please!" After daddy gave the approval, the berry went into the bucket and then shouts of joy (literally), "Look at this one! My bucket is almost full!" I even stopped taking pictures just so I could soak it all in.

I thought, "this moment will never be again so I want to drink it all in." And I did. No worries about the time, no thoughts about the laundry, no wondering about tomorrow.....just enjoying a very simple but meaningful summer evening.

Make sure to check out Renee's blog FIMBY to see what others are saying about their summer!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Savoring Summer - A Backyard Firepit

I am joining Renee (a dear friend, great blogger, and wonderful inspiration) over at FIMBY and posting a bit about how I am savoring the summer!

A couple of years ago, Alan built this small but perfect fire pit for the purpose of enjoying more of what summer has to offer. Sitting around late night fires in the backyard, dreaming with my husband with the sounds of my children running barefoot through the grass echos through my mind right now. Then their squeals of excitement as the first firefly shines its light. And, of course, the anticipation while helping mommy and daddy catch one just to watch it blink and glow in the darkness. This piece of summer is pure delight!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ten Year Lilies

Alan and I are coming up on our ten year anniversary which has put both of us in a stage of reflection and evaluation so many of my posts may possibly have something to do with marriage or thoughts about the last ten years of our lives together.

I was actually thinking about our marriage two weeks ago as I walked the trash out to the dumpster and growing right next to the dumpster was a beautiful brand new Lily plant. And to make it even more exciting, the lilies were yellow. Yellow lilies just happen to be my favorite flower, and they also just happen to be the flower used in our wedding bouquets. I was literally jumping with joy as I ran inside to find some scissors so I could cut just one lily to put on our kitchen table. I could hardly believe it: A brand new lilly plant for our ten year anniversary!

Now, this story becomes quite humorous (at least it is now).....which will explain why I only picked one lily. The day after our wedding we went back to my parent's house to open all of our gifts with friends and family. My mom had brought all the flowers back to the house and placed them strategically around the living room, kitchen, and bathrooms for added beauty....and of course fragrance. Not ten minutes after we arrived, Alan started sneezing like crazy. It turns out, he is extremely allergic to lilies (or at least that particular type in large quantities) so we gathered up all the beautiful flowers and set them on the back porch which is where they stayed until Alan and I left.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In Which We Dance

Since the time she was three years old, Kaylynn has had an intense desire to be the prima ballerina. She danced EVERYWHERE. She danced at the grocery store, in her carseat, while brushing her teeth, and at any other opportunity. Kaylynn enjoyed listening to classical music over any other kind of music and could explain The Nutcracker music in words. Her desire for dance was so great that when she was three her gymnastics teacher told me to switch her to dance. So I did, and she has simply loved the past 5 years of dance. This year was different, though. This was the first year of "real" ballet, and she is no longer convinced that she still wants to be the prima ballerina. This year pink and purple are out and yellow and orange are in. This year princesses and ballerinas are out and explorers and adventurers are in. This year fancy dresses are out and ripped jeans are in. This year my little pink princess turned into a tomboy! She is now following a path similar to my own. I used to hide my ripped jeans (because my father would not allow me to wear them) by rolling them up past the rips then unrolling them when I got to school. My favorite shirt in third grade was a HUGE black sweatshirt with a skier on it. Who knew she would go through such a massive transformation? So you can imagine my surprise when she was actually excited to don her Bright Pink leotard and tutu for the recital. She told me, "not all pink is bad, mom." (As if I didn't know that already). And she was ecstatic to perform in BOTH recitals this year. This girl was made for the stage. She has nerves of steel and certainly commands attention when on stage (well at least my attention). I am excited to see what next year brings as she changes once again and continues to grow into the young lady that God has made her to be.

I have a second little princess waiting in the wings, and although Kalli has never had a great desire to be a prima ballerina nor does she care to be on stage or in the spotlight at any time, she LOVES pink, purple, tutus, and ANYTHING that big sister is doing. So, she wanted to do creative movement this year. I spent the first half of the year participating in the class with her because she simply refused to go in alone but when offered to wait and take the class next year, she insisted that she loved it and wanted to continue. I was not expecting her to actually go on stage this year, but she did! She was certainly more interested in how her tutu spun than actually doing the dance number, but that made it all the more memorable. And often during her "performance" she would stop and turn all around watching her classmates do their part, then she would do a nice twirl for good measure! She was so happy when it was all over and so proud of herself! She also loved receiving her own flowers (which were far too big for her to carry). So, I still have one little princess for at least a few more years. And who knows what Cami will be like?

Inspired by our girls, or possibly some sense of nostalgia, Alan and I joined a swing dancing class. We used to dance together (about 10 years ago) before we had children. We even "performed" one time at the Homecoming football game half time show (wow that seems so long ago). But alas, our dancing activity has since been restricted to the living room, the kitchen, and often the back yard, with our children looking on or interrupting to be twirled or thrown into the air. So here we are again, re-learning what we learned many years ago and enjoying every minute of it. We are currently learning East Coast Swing. Our next class will be West Coast Swing and Waltz. We are the youngest in the class by at least 10 years, and most of the other participants actually thought we were in high school (so good to hear that at 30 years old).
As we danced this past Tuesday, I had some time to process the "art" of dancing and how it pertains to our marriage. You see in swing (or any partner dancing), there are good leads and bad leads; there are good follows and bad follows. The dance does not work when either the lead or the follow have no idea what they are doing. We are learning that to be a good dancing duo, we both have to know our part. What a great picture this has painted for me in our marriage. We both have to know our part in order for this to work. When I attempt to lead, we wind up tripping and stepping on each other's toes. When he fails to lead me properly, the dance just stops and we go no where. I can pinpoint times in our marriage when either one or the other of us did not do our part well, and the result can imagine. Not to say that we didn't grow or learn from the experience because we did. Which leads us to where we are today. We are in a stage of our marriage that I feel we both know our part well and we are functioning in that role well (there is still always room for growth). This has come from years of trial and error, learning from each other, shedding tears or laughing about mistakes, and growing together. My husband is a great lead both on the dance floor and off, and I am so thankful to be dancing life's dance with God as the "band" and Alan as my partner. The dance of life will always change, the music will be different, the tempo will vary, but we will stay with the music and dance our way through every season of life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cami Eats Rice

The other night at dinner we turned our backs for one moment, and Cami decided to pull the entire rice bowl to herself and dig in. I am so glad she enjoys healthy food so much!

Back in Time

One of the many advantages of Homeschooling is the amazing field trips we get to take! Last week, we went back in time and visited two historical places in Maine: Willowbrook Farm and Old Fort Western. The post is full of pictures and not a lot of commentary so enjoy looking.

Old Fort Western

Cutting fire wood

Willow Brook

Using the old printing press

Going to school 100 years ago....boys on one side of the room, girls on the other.

Kaylynn gets 20 lashes for playing with the boys outside
and bringing cards to school.

Then she gets in trouble for being rowdy in class.

Cami insisted on wearing her boa scarf all day.

One of the oldest carriages in the nation. There is only one that is older.

Cami never left the technology behind. Here she has my cell phone and my camera.

He turns 6!

It's inevitable: children grow up. I love watching my children grow and change, but I do not welcome the thought that eventually they will grow into adults and move away. So, I do my best to cherish each and every moment that I have with them now (not always so easy when they are testing their limits). I have watched my son grow into a young man this last year. He has become such a servant. He encourages his sisters and has really stepped up to the challenge of being THE brother. He has also grown into much more creative mischief which keeps me on my toes and sometimes leaves me wanting to pull my hair out at the end of the day. We celebrated him exactly the way he wanted to.....a quiet party with just a few of his friends (he is not into crowds), a yummy dinner, swimming, and of course....a Minecraft cake (which he helped with). If you haven't heard of it, Minecraft is a computer game in which you can build houses, castles, farms, gardens, and many other things.....but you are doing it all with square blocks.
So, we made a Minecraft cake of bedrock and grass...complete with some Playmobil trees and a guy (although Jeremie did point out that the guy isn't really Minecraft because he is not square).

Jeremie's Minecraft house (made with square cupcakes).
He had fun helping me frost it.

Eating bedrock.


And his very own Nerf gun.