Activities, Parenting

Blackberry Summers

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When I was a little girl, I spent a great deal of time with my Grandparents. Every summer, they always planted a huge garden, with two big rows of blackberry bushes at the very back of the field, closest to the woods. There was nothing growing in that garden that I looked forward to more than those huge plump berries. Each morning, before the heat was unbearable, my best friend and I would grab our buckets, and head out to collect our loot. She wasn’t quite as fond of the blackberries as I was. Her bucket would actually come back with berries in it, while mine…..Well, it was usually empty. Sometimes I would have to make the difficult decision: Do I eat them now, or save them so Grandma can make a blackberry cobbler? She DOES make the BEST cobbler ever.

Over the years, the work of the garden became too much for my Grandparents, and eventually it became only a memory. All that remains today is the lonely berry patch. I’m thankful for this small piece of my childhood to share with my daughter. If there is one thing that I’ve enjoyed most about parenting, it is sharing the things with her that were most important to me. You think that the joy you experienced back then simply can’t get better, but it can. When you see the joy on your child’s face, the magic simply multiples.

Every Thursday, we spend the day with my Grandparents. They were/are such a big part of my life, and I am so thankful that Neyland has the opportunity to know them. My Grandma cooks breakfast, the kind of breakfast only a Grandma CAN make. I’m still convinced that there is something magical about her kitchen. The food ALWAYS tastes better when she makes it. After breakfast this past week, I asked Grandma how the berries were coming along. She indicated that there may be some ready to pick. I quickly showed Neyland where to find a bucket to put our berries, and out we went. She was so incredibly excited. Of course she was intent on gathering more berries than I could, which I’m sure she did. Only problem? There were none in her bucket by the time we got back to the house! It’s funny the way life repeats itself. It amazes me how many things she does naturally that are just like me. I know the memories will be just as sweet for her, and that she can share this tradition with her daughter some day.

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Activities, DIY, featured, Parenting, Uncategorized

The Simple Things

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Gardening

I can’t recommend gardening enough. It is therapeutic for the soul, and a GREAT learning tool for kids. Each spring, Neyland helps me clean out the plant skeletons from our small raised garden out behind our pool house. She plays in the dirt, digs, sifts, and creates a huge mess. More importantly, she has a blast. Last year she was too small to really distinguish between weeds and the plants we were growing, but this year, she is doing a great job helping me keep the weeds pulled. Gardening is such a great illustration for kids to show them what hard work and patience can bring! We live in a society where everything is instant. We want what we want NOW. Instant gratification is the name of the game. While this is very convenient, is this all we want to teach our kiddos? I want to remind mine that good things take time, effort, and a lot of patience. Working to grow food helps them see value in what you buy at the store. It’s so important for them to know where food comes from.

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We start seeds off in the spring in old cardboard egg containers and toilet paper rolls. She waters them carefully until they are big enough to be transplanted into the garden. This part can also be a fun biology lesson. It’s a great time to try the “place a Lima bean & a moist paper towel in a ziplock bag and watch it grow” experiment.

In addition to growing seedlings, we also recycle a lot of produce when we can. I usually purchase at least a few boxes of hydroponically grown artisan lettuces and some romaine to use in cooking. As I use the lettuce, I simply save the stem, cut the tip to freshen it’s ability to take up water, and place them in a shallow dish of water in the window until roots sprout.  It begins growing and producing more lettuce remarkably fast. I personally use the lettuce so much and so quickly that I leave the constantly growing batch right in the window. Occasionally I have transplanted them into the garden once the roots were growing. I’ve done the same with scallions, and other herbs. My only issue is that my cats want to graze on the greens if I keep them on the counter for very long!

We get to go out and check the garden daily. This is something she always looks forward too. She is super independent and always wants to water by herself. She gets to watch the plants grow and change, and finally to harvest what they produce. It’s also a GREAT way to get her to try some veggies that she might not sample otherwise. Growing it yourself always makes her more excited about trying things.

We also have a special “root garden” just so that Neyland can watch the veggies grow in the soil. We made our own, but there are a lot of commercially available ones on the market these days. The basic idea is similar to an ant farm. Create a thin garden, using plexiglass for the sides, so that curious eyes can watch all the growing action. (See below) We planted radishes, carrots, and scallions in it this year!

What are your favorite gardening projects to do with your kids?

Check out our harvest! It’s not a lot, but plenty for the two of us & loads of fun & memories!

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