Monthly Archives: June 2012

Brief Blogging Break

Hello lovely readers:

I’m taking a brief break from my blog to spend some quality summer time with my family the next week or so.  But I will be back with new pictures and stories soon!  Have a wonderful 4th of July week and stay safe!


What You Can Find in a Blueberry Patch

Our sweet gal picking her blueberries (Photo by PML)

As a child, I spent my summers on the shores of Lake Huron at our family cabin in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  It was an idyllic sort of time in my life, one that I will probably write more about in future posts.  One of my favorite pastimes was roaming the forests with my sister gathering flowers and berries.  I remember seeking out the rustic lanes where the wild blueberries would grow, and filling up buckets alongside my family.  My mother would bake the most delicious muffins and pies from our yield and we had the opportunity to spend an afternoon enjoying nature.

(Photo by MEL)

In an attempt to buy local and fresh seasonal fruit (which benefits the environment and our budget), my husband M and I have been visiting local U-Pick farms for our summer berries.  V and I went on the first strawberry picking yield with some friends, and brought back enough for two batches of strawberry jam, made by M and I.

This past weekend, we decided to visit a small family run blueberry farm near our home.  They follow organic practices and sell berries for only $1.55 a pound, which is fabulous!  Together, V, M and I spent the morning filling our bucket with lovely, plump berries.

Zen Picking (Photo by MEL)

Together we worked, alternating between restful silences and chatting amicably.  Though the morning was quite warm and humid, gentle breezes relieved the heat.  The sunshine dappled the bushes, highlighting the green of the leaves and the blue-purple ripeness of the blueberries.  In the next lane over, two gentlemen talked in deep, soothing twangs about family.  I could have listened to the one man read the phonebook; his Garrison Keillor voice was hypnotic.  Somewhere in the bushes, an older lady with a lovely voice taught a friend a hymn.  V ran about “sploring” the bushes and discovering bugs and birds.  Everyone was in pleasant moods, delighting in the beauty of the morning.  In that patch of garden, everything seemed in harmony and I absorbed the peace.

V ‘splorin’ (Photo by MEL)

We got so much more than a bucket of berries from our trip to the blueberry patch.  We shared a pleasant time together as a family; V had a valuable learning experience about where her food comes from; we spent time enjoying a natural setting and restored some peace to our spirits.

M & V finding some berries for our bucket (Photo by PML)

As an added bonus, on the way to the patch, we stopped at a yard sale to ask for directions and I scored some awesome loot:  a two poster headboard and nightstand for V, a Melissa and Doug money set for educational play, a large basket to house V’s busy bags, a Mercer Mayer story collection, an I Spy book, a large metal standing coat rack for our hallway entrance, and more for $31.00!  I plan to refinish the headboard and nightstand with a white, cream, or matte French black appearance.  And fortunately, we were able to enlist the help of a friend to haul it home.

Yes, it’s the world’s ugliest pie, but it sure tastes good! (Photo by PML)

With our blueberry yield, V and I made homemade muffins and pie and we froze a bunch for the winter months as well.

Yummy, yummy muffins! (Photo by PML)

What are your favorite berry picking/harvesting memories?


Painting Picasso’s “Blue Period”

2 year old V’s take on Picasso’s Blue Period

In my Renaissance at Home post, I described my initiative to blog through Art History with my little one, V.  I hope that we can learn together and over time, with our activities and exploration growing more complex and in depth over the years that we do this project.  Though some might think that 2 is too early to start exploring the work of the masters, I think you are never too young to be exposed to beautiful works of art, and that the projects will be great sensory activities for a young child. Indeed, our little one recognized Hokusai’s work at a museum exhibit after viewing the picture on one of her Little Einstein videos.  Obviously the objectives of  her learning will change as she matures, but for now, I hope to keep our art exploration interesting and fun for her and hopefully, she’ll absorb a little along the way.

Our first featured artist is Pablo Picasso.

Together, V and I read Painting with Picasso by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober, who have a great series of books for toddler aged children based on the work of famous artists.  We also checked out Pablo Picasso:  Art for Children, which seems to be a great book for slightly older children to explore.

A reference book that we will be using for our Art History exploration project is called Discovering Great Artists:  Hands-On-Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga.  I fell in love with this book when we visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and had to purchase it. On pg. 69 of Discovering Great Artists, is the page on Picasso, with a project called “One Color Painting.”

The focus of “One Color Painting” is to help children understand the concept of color mixing and painting using gradations of the same color.

While we did not adequately complete the color mixing portion of the project, we did decide to paint using one color.  I mixed the color gradations using tempera paint myself, however the paint we used did not change a good deal despite me mixing in great quantities of black and white paint into the blue.  Acrylic paint would have demonstrated the color mixing concept to V more visibly.

I personally like some of the work from Picasso’s Blue Period (from 1901-1904), which as the book says, “focuses on themes of loneliness and despair.”  While I did not attempt to convey those themes to my little one, she did manage to create a fairly ghost-like picture of her own (see above)!  I believe that the actual picture is meant to be airplanes and clouds, per her description.

This was a simple project, it didn’t take a lot of materials and time, but was a fun way to begin our journey exploring the work of the masters.


Celebrating America’s Independence: Flags, Fireworks and Reading Fun for Toddlers

Hot summer days are officially here.  With the temperature soaring to the upper 90’s today and the 4th of July approaching, I decided that it would be a great day to teach V about America’s Independence Day celebration.  Together, we read some stories and created some simple, kid-friendly crafts to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.

Two books that guided our learning experience are:

The Story of America’s Birthday by Patricia A. Pingry

and

The Story of The Star-Spangled Banner by Patricia A. Pingry

American Flag Craft

Together we made an American flag out of paper and paints.

Materials:

Red, white, and blue construction paper, scissors, Elmer’s Glue, white tempura paint, paintbrushes

Instructions:

I cut 6 strips of white construction paper and a blue rectangle of construction paper in advance.  I also lined them up in proper American flag order with the red stripe starting at the top of the flag and thirteen stripes total showing.  Line up the white stripes on a piece of red construction paper, creating alternating stripes starting and ending with red and having approximately equal spacing.  Have your child apply Elmer’s glue and affix the stripes to the construction paper.  Then, have your child glue the blue rectangle in the upper left corner of your flag.  Let them create white stars on the blue corner with white tempura paint.  Another option is to have them use silver foil star stickers (the kind that teachers use for grading) and apply them to the blue rectangle.

Firework Paintings

Materials:

Red, white, blue, yellow (and any other color) tempera paints,  (We especially like to use sparkly ones!)  paintbrushes, and black construction paper.

Instructions:

Let your child free paint their version of sparkly fireworks on the paper.  Allow to dry and display!  We practiced color mixing while we painted our fireworks (V learned to mix purple, green, and brown colors from primary colored paints).

Mama's Version for Demonstration

4th of July themed Nature Table/Tray 

This Montessori/Waldorf concept can be adapted so many different ways.  There are a ton of websites that give examples of nature trays for you to explore as a reference. We like to make learning our own in our home so this is what I came up with and what V added.

Our Nature Tray

Materials and Instructions:

Take a small wooden tray (you can find them at a craft store).  I lined ours with blue sparkly felt for the season.  Our nature tray contains red stars, red and white “jewels”, sparkly star stickers, shells, sticks and rocks that V recently collected on outside excursions, fish, frog, flower, and bug stickers for some interactive seasonal fun, shells and a fossilized fish skin we found when visiting my dad in Florida.  We will add items as the weeks progress, and change out the 4th of July theme following the holiday.  We keep our tray on a little table near the entrance to our house so V can easily add to her collection.

(As with all crafts/activities posted here, neither this blog or the author accept liability for related injuries.  Please be responsible and provide proper supervision and use discretion when determining whether your child is old enough to complete the above projects, especially with children under the age of 3, for whom small objects might pose a choking hazard.)


New Tagline and Other Blogging Business

After some consideration, a few thoughtful suggestions, and weeks of procrastination, I have finally settled on a new tagline for TheRippleEffect2009.

Thanks to those readers and bloggers (Ashley Jillian, Jesse S. Mitchell, and Jessica from Team Rasler) who submitted suggestions; I morphed the choices into the following:

A parent’s reflections on learning, living, and loving

TaDa!

On another thank-you related note, I wanted to especially thank my Aunt Mary and CanadianMommyTime for supporting me in my attempts to reach 10,000 views by one year of blogging.  Though I slightly passed my self-imposed deadline, I have surpassed 10,000 views, with my Father’s Day letter to my husband bringing in a record number (for me…anyway) of views.  Thanks to my loyal readers who keep reading, commenting, and sharing.  Thanks to my readers who offer different perspectives with grace and respect for others.  Blogging isn’t all about the numbers; it’s about the relationships and sharing that happens.  A growing readership just helps to involve more people in the conversations, which is always nice and welcome.  Anyway, thanks again, all!

Finally, Canadian MommyTime generously granted me the Versatile Blogger Award

which I humbly appreciate.  It has, however, taken me a few hectic weeks to respond in kind, so here is my better late than never response!  I want to thank CanadianMommyTime for this award; she has been a supportive fellow blogger and I always enjoy reading her thoughtful and gentle posts on motherhood and other topics.  Please do her writing the honor it deserves and check out her blog today.

The Rules for this award are as follows:

  1. Nominate 15 fellow bloggers who are relatively new to blogging (or whose blogs you enjoy most).
  2. Let them know that you have nominated them.
  3. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
  4. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your blog post

(Please note to all Nominated Bloggers:  I know these awards are akin to blogging chain mail, but I think it’s nice to support each other when time and interest allows and I always feel flattered and supported when I receive one.  Please know I won’t be offended if you don’t complete the award requirements; we all have limits to our writing time and specific topics that we want to focus on in a given week.  I hope you get a few views and/or a reader or two from this post, is all!)


Nominations

Glitnir 76: My talented husband blogs about everything from fatherhood to technology to politics.  And on Thursdays, he writes about being thankful.

Quasi Agitato:  This artistic mother, Christine, writes about motherhood and her professional passion for music and acting.  She has a lovely voice; go check it out!

Team Rasler:  The down-to-earth Jessica shares her take on parenting, books, personal growth, and teaching.  So many of her posts resonate for me.

IGameMom:  What a great idea to review apps for kids!  I don’t have a smart phone, but I still check out her reviews to know what learning tools are available.

Modern Rage: Jesse writes so creatively and almost mystically; for those of you interested in poetry and literature, I would recommend checking out his work!

Thin Spiral Notebook:  Tara is so talented.  She takes amazing photographs, writes fabulous Haiku, crafts interesting fictional pieces and shares her honest experiences as a parent.  She has a real gift with words and I’ve enjoyed reading her work since I began blogging.

motherwho:  This gentle mommy is a breath of fresh air; check out her posts!

Beauty That Moves:  I feel like I’ve stepped into a soothing B&B when I read Beauty That Moves.  From healthy eating, to creating a calm home environment, to gorgeous photographic snaps of her home life, Heather has such a gentle tone that makes readers feel right at home.

A Detailed House:  What a creative talent; I think this DIY gal can make just about anything.  Her design projects are always awesome!

400 Days ’til 40:  I just love this blogger’s awesome, positive perspective as she shares daily life lessons as she approaches 40 years old.  I identify with so many of her posts and thoughts; it’s kind of uncanny.

Science of Mom:  This mom examines parenting questions through a scientific, research oriented lens and always shares in an objective, respectful fashion, even when the issues discussed are hot topics.  I enjoy such a refreshing approach.

Let Life In Practices:  Kristin Cuthrell’s writing is a great read for anyone interested in self-improvement and personal growth.  She provides helpful resources for additional reading on various psychological topics.

On The Go Momma:  I just love Kate Fineske’s work.  She’s real and honest and empathic.  And she’s kind and professional; such a good balance to have as a blogger!

The Sky Inside You is a poetry blog that I have newly discovered; I just like Marco’s style!  And what an expansive and inspirational blog name; LOVE it!

Cast Light is a blog that shares positive quotes and short inspirational reflections; kind of like a meditation for the day.

Seven Random Facts About Me

  1.  I once proofread a college phone book cover to cover.  The highlight of that job (besides the nice people I worked with) was selecting the cover picture.
  2. I love the thrill of riding in small aircraft and would study for my pilot’s license if I ever had the disposable income.
  3. I was once able to translate Morse Code at 5 words per minute.  Now I don’t remember any of it.
  4. I was a Girl Scout all the way through high school except for 6th grade.
  5. I hate snakes and only recently can see them in cages, on TV, or in print without FREAKING out.
  6. I got engaged in St. David’s, Wales under a rainbow; anniversary post forthcoming in August.
  7. I had my first poem published when I was 15.  It took about another decade + a few years for the next one to be published!

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