Archive for July, 2011

fill a bucket

This last week, Ashley, Jacob and I went blueberry picking at the local blueberry farm. We each had a bucket to fill with the bountiful blueberries. Jacob and Ashley liked to run off down the row and would often get out of sight with all the blueberry branches there were extending out into the rows which limited my view.

After not seeing them for a little bit, I heard Ashley say from around the corner, “Mommy, Jacob is helping me fill my bucket.” As Ashley said this, it reminded me of a book I purchased this last fall called, “Fill a bucket” by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin.

Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for the Young ChildThe book helps young children (great for pre-school age and early elementary children) understand the concept of adding to and taking from other people’s lives. It talks about how each day, we have opportunities to “fill others’ buckets” or to “empty others’ buckets.” It is a simple concept, but it seems to have stuck with Ashley. Ashley was even able to take it and let her teachers share it with her friends in her preschool class. Throughout the year, she has come inside to report good news such as, “Jacob filled my bucket. I was stuck on my bike coming up the hill and he came and pushed me up the hill.” Or something like, “Mommy, mommy, I filled Jacob’s bucket! I shared my yogurt with him.” You get the point.

Anyhow, as we picked our blueberries, we once again were able to talk about the concept presented in this little book and how good it makes us feel to have our bucket filled by another. And this time, we had real buckets in hand to go along with the metaphor.

May your day be a day of filling buckets!

30 days later…

30 days, 6k+ miles, 10 states, 2 countries, 4 American National Parks, 2 Canadian National Parks, one slight fender bender (not our fault), one ding in the windshield, lots of family and friends and innumerable pictures, PBJs and cheetos later, we have returned to Texas.

What an amazing Summer 2011 road trip we had. Our kiddos were great, especially given their young ages (4 and 2) and the number of hours we spent together in a vehicle. We never once even had to make a “potty break” on demand. What a blessing!

Some people asked what we did to stay sane, help our kids stay sane, etc., while spending that much time in a vehicle. We did lots of different things, but I’ll try to post on here some of the things that helped us the most.

For the kiddos, Joe introduced to them the “tractor” game. It evolved to be the “Tractor, Train, Antelope, Moose, Bear, Bison, Elk” game, and it worked well. Joe told the kiddos he’d give them a penny for each tractor they saw, and a nickel for each tractor they saw that was in motion. This game helped keep the kiddos looking out and around and taking in the beauty of God’s Creation. It also gave them something to focus on, rather than sticking feet in one another’s face.

As I mentioned, we ate LOTS of PBJs on the trip to help keep food costs reasonable, as well as to maintain flexibility in our ability to adventure as we drove. We also used my grandmother’s old traveling trick to help with food expense. We purchased a little electric skillet like this one Oster SH12 12-Inch Skillet with Hinged Lid, Black. Available for less than $25, even if you use it in place of eating out for a meal or two, you’ve essentially “paid” for it. This was especially helpful because eating out with tired little kiddos who have been stuck in car seats for way too long can be a really painful experience!

I’ll post some pictures soon, as well as some other good lessons learned and ideas from our trip.


A Tribute to my Grandpa Thomas

Here is a picture of my kiddos and me with my Grandpa Thomas on the 4th of July. He passed away 11 days later on July 15th. What a sweet, loving Grandfather he was to us all. I think we each felt like his favorite grandchild, and there were 38 of us. That’s a lot of love!I remember most his smooches on the lips, even when we were in those years where it was really weird to smooch your grandpa on the lips, him “shucking his teeth” (sliding out his dentures), him telling me he loved me “just a little bit,” starting with his hands close together and then stretching them all the way out as wide as they could go, sitting on his lap and giggling at the anticipation of him tickling me on the knee, and volunteering with him and my dad to drive the Care-A-Van on Fridays where we would pick up elderly and disabled individuals and transport them to doctor’s appointments, etc. And I definitely remember him telling me about how he went to Japan in WWII and they surrendered before he got there because they heard he was coming.  What sweet memories I get to share with my children! 

Red, White and Blueberry Cream Pie

After picking two gallons of blueberries today with our sweet kiddos this morning and with my Texas Mamma Jayne tonight, I was reminded of this favorite recipe of mine from last summer. So, here it is again for you all to enjoy as you pick your blueberries this summer. I hope I have some cream cheese hiding in the fridge so I can make some tonight. 
Red, White and Blueberry Cream Pie
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust (I like the larger one because you can get more slices).
1 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 t. vanilla extract
Sliced fresh strawberries (optional)
1. Place 1 cup of blueberries in the bottom of the crust (cover bottom with one layer)
2. Beat cream cheese in a large blowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Spread into crust.
3. Top with remaining blueberries and sliced strawberries in a fun pattern/design.
4. Cover and chill 3 hours, or until set. I also froze one and it tasted great thawed tonight with guests. Refrigerate leftovers.
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