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Showing posts from July, 2011

Sigh of relief on a cool rock

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There are times as a parent when you wonder if all of the things you’ve said and all of the influences you’ve given have ever really gotten through the thick skulls of your children. You wonder if the bargaining you’ve done and the words you’ve yelled repeatedly and the slight hinting towards liking things that are good and decent actually got absorbed. Sometimes, you fully doubt yourself. But then there are those moments, those sweet parenting moments, when they catch you totally off guard and all you can do is smile. I’m pretty sure the majority of readers don’t care about what we did on a Sunday afternoon in mid-Summer, but I would be remiss if I didn’t file this memory deep in my soul to pull out on one-of-those-days. With a husband swinging around a golf course, I chose to take our kids to one of my favorite places in the world. Virginia Kendall Ledges , located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park , is an outstanding bit of Earth. Even in the heat of summer, the coo

Ten pounds of fun: One weary summer

A friend shared this brilliant idea that she saw on one of those parenting blogs where surely the mother has a nanny or spends her entire day posing her clean children in organic clothes in her vintage house with crumbs of homemade granola strategically placed on the floor. The idea? A giant poster, a large to-do list of summer fun and you are supposed to hang it in a common area so it’s a constant reminder to not let the summer slip by without you cramming in ten-pounds of fun into a five-pound summer. Sounded like a good enough idea, I thought, and so on our first full day of summer vacation, my kids and I sat down with a huge piece of paper, some markers, and a hankering for a summer to remember. At first, it came easy. We wrote things like “zoo” and “park” and “have friends over.” But then we sat there and looked at this thing and I wondered why on Earth I chose such a large piece of paper. There was a lot of blank space at the bottom. A lot. So we had to get a

Bring dirt into your house: Mason Jar Terrarium!

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I have a new found love of canning jars. They hold the summer sun all year long in the form of canned garden goodnesses. They also store my dried goods, my bulk foods, and numerous things all over my house because they're so darn handy. We've done pop bottle (yes, I'm from Ohio, where soda don't grow) terrariums, but I thought it might be kind of neat to try something on a small scale in, what else, a canning jar. And so, here's what you need: -Large canning jar -gravel -activated charcoal (buy this at a pet store with the fish filters) -moss -dirt -small plant (leaves of three? no thanks.) -chopsticks or thin tongs to help position things in the jar -water Starting at the bottom, but a small amount of gravel . This is to allow drainage of water. After gravel, put an even smaller layer of charcoal. The purpose of the charcoal is to clean the air and water as it circulates through the closed system. (Did you see the lid?) After charcoal comes moss , which ac

Ice Cream in a Baggie

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NO NO NO! It's not that kind of ice cream in a bag. This kind is much more fun and probably tastes better, too. You will need: 2 T sugar 1 cup half and half 1/2 tsp vanilla 1/2 cup ice cream salt or rock salt ice cubes 1 gallon-sized ziptop baggie 1 pint-sized ziptop baggie In the small bag, combine sugar, half and half, and vanilla. (That's it. Then go read the ingredients on your store-bought ice cream...yikes.) Seal the small bag well and set it aside. In the large bag, add the rock salt and enough ice cubes to fill about half of the bag. Place the small bag inside the large bag, seal well, and shake, shake, shake for at least 5 minutes. I suggest having a towel handy because it gets pretty cold. Check the ice cream periodically and stop shaking when it's done. Grab some spoons and eat right out of the little bag, or squeeze into a bowl and add all the fixin's. We think it tastes like McDonald's soft serve, which we think is pretty delicious. Give it

National Ice Cream Month!!

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I’m only going to say this once, because something so significant does not require repeating: July is the national ice cream month. This means that while we flipped our calendars and watched fireworks and wondered how it got so very hot all of a sudden, we really should have been sitting around, each with our own tub of ice cream and a nice, sturdy spoon. It’s practically the patriotic thing to do. In 1984, a very wise president Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month, and the third Sunday of that month being National Ice Cream Day. He said something along the lines of, “it’s good for you, and it’s a fun food! Eat up, America.” The figures pointed out that 90% of Americans at that time enjoyed partaking in the frozen dairy delight, so I can only extrapolate that of every 10 people reading this, only one should not have a blob of chocolate sauce on his or her shirt by the time you reach the end. Statistics show that of all of the age groups, children

Tick tock, tick tock

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As a mother, there are certain words that you’d rather not here. In the summer, some of my least favorite words are, “Mom? What’s this bump on my head?” because I have been around enough to know that if you spend time romping through the woods, that little lump is going to have eight legs and a thirst for blood. A tick. I’m no stranger to the little insect, and have been on both sides of the tick experience more times that I can count. For every tick I pulled off myself or a dog, my poor mother pulled at least that many off of me as a child. I have vivid memories of sitting on a picnic table while my parents yelled at me to “hold still!” and “stop moving!” and before returning to their game of horseshoes would ask me, “what do you do, roll around in the woods?” And actually, I kind of did. The woods were my personal playground when I was little, and now my own kids spend a lot of their summer season in the same type of places, running and playing, and generally being

Neighborly spirit

Many years ago, Robert Frost penned a line that would become a philosophical discussion for decades to come. “Good fences make good neighbors,” he wrote, in his poem “Mending Wall.” I remember reading it in my school-aged days and thinking that our neighbors were the best ever because we had a fence. In hindsight, I bet that they loved our fence just as much because it contained our childhood ruckus. In any case, that phrase has stuck with me over time because mostly my brain loves to sit and postulate things without answers. It has an affinity for driving me batty, I think. And here at our current house, we don’t have fence. But we have great neighbors. Probably some of the very best in the whole world. We have shared impromptu pizzas and have a long-standing tradition of looking for campfire smoke rising from a backyard, because that’s our open invitation to bring over a chair and a bag of marshmallows. Our children have learned to be a fantastic team of lighten