What a difference a year makes – Preschool, year 2

This past week Ava began her second year attending Waldorf preschool. I still don’t know where we’re going to send her for kindergarten next year, but we were so pleased with the Waldorf-inspired in-home preschool we found (thanks to some friends) last year, we decided to continue with it this year. In comparing pictures from the two years, it was amazing to me to see how much Ava has grown and changed. Oh, and Julian too!

2007:                                              2008:
Ava’s first day of preschool 2007 - Age 3 Ava’s first day of preschool 2007 - Age 3Ava’s first day of preschool 2008 - Age 4 Ava, age 4
Ava took a caterpillar she had made the day before as a gift for her teacher.

Julian didn’t accompany us to drop Ava off on her first day this year, but he and I walked to pick her up after school (something I hope to keep up with regularly, walking, that is), so I took some pics of the two of them after we arrived back home.
2007:                  2008:
Ava’s first day of preschool 2007 - Ava, 3; Julian 9 months Ava’s first day of preschool 2008 - Ava, age 4; Julian, 21 months
Ava, age 4; Julian, age 21 months

I think my pick for My Best Shot is the last picture of Ava and Jules together. See what everyone else’s best shots were over at Mother May I.

From fresh fruit to tasty jam in 36 hours

Photography-wise, I only pulled out the P&S and I’ve got nothing to write home about this week. But as far as expanding my kitchen prowess goes, I’m very proud of these pictures. 🙂

On Saturday, we visited Berry Patch Farms where we ate picked organic strawberries and peaches, and had a great time doing so.
Ava’s strawberries 8/23/08Julian helps too 8/23/08
Julian and daddy having fun in the strawberry patch 8/23/08
I was determined to get some of the big ones up high, so up the tree I went:
Me, up a tree 8/23/08

Something like 4 lbs. of strawberries and 15 lbs. of peaches later, our bounty looked like this:
Strawberries and peaches we picked ourselves, plus a few other goodies from the farm store 8/23/08

Then it turned into this (after a fair bit of work) in the span of 36 hours:
Strawberry and peach jam - 8/24/08

That used up all of our strawberries, but we still have a LOT of peaches left that I may freeze or can as slices.

But the big deal here (at least to me) is that Sunday was my first time ever making jam or canning anything! While it was definitely a learning experience, it was also a lot of fun and I’m so proud of my first 10 little jars of jam. 🙂 Those 10 little jars are my choice for Best Shot Monday, although they are hard-pressed to compete against Mr. Strawberry-face up there. 😉

I will be blogging a step-by-step guide to canning jam (with pictures) in the near future, so if you want to get started canning be sure to check it out.

More Best Shot Monday pics

A bright light, boat, and beautiful flowers

Here are a few more pictures from our vacation to Mackinac Island. There were some breathtaking views and gorgeous flowers on the island. I only wish I would’ve had more time to take pictures of them all.

If you missed the other vacation pictures I posted last week, you can see them here.

Lighthouse Mackinac Bridge

Freighter in the straights of Mackinac Roses
The last one is my best shot. Which one is your favorite?

Head over to Mother May I to see everyone else’s best shots.

A belated Father’s Day gift

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while, you probably recall that every Father’s Day since Ava was born I’ve made a DADDY storyboard for my husband. This year, although the pictures weren’t taken until a couple weeks after Father’s Day, and Julian kept throwing letters on the ground or pointing in the sky at “bearplanes,” and the storyboard hasn’t been ordered (quite yet), I happy to say I am keeping up the tradition.

My imperfect, but perfect for us choice for best shot Monday is:

Julian and Ava - Happy Father’s Day 2008

Feel free to also check out 2007 (when Julian was eating the letters), 2006 and, the year it all began, 2005. Then head over to Mother May I to see everyone else’s best shots.

Celebrate good times (BSM)

While our 4th of July didn’t go exactly as planned (we missed the parade we set out to see because the time listed for it was incorrect, then missed our backup plan of an outdoor symphony concert because Julian fell asleep in the car on the way), but we still ended up having a nice day. Ava got to ride her new bike (a present for her 4th birthday). My sister Carrie joined us for the evening. We picked up some dinner and some fireworks which Jody set off in the street. Carrie and I were sure to throw in some oooohs and aaaahs for good measure and the kids enjoyed it all.

My best shots are of my big girl learning to ride her bike:

Ava on her new bike - 7/4/08 Ava on her new bike - 7/4/08

Then here are a few from our mini fireworks display:

Fireworks 7/4/08 Aunt Carrie and the kids watching fireworks - 7/4/08 Fireworks 7/4/08

See more Best Shot Monday posts this week over at Slurping Life

A daughter’s love (BSM)

I took a slew of pics on Sunday, hoping to get something worthy of sharing for my Best Shot Monday. While most of them didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, this one grabbed my attention. I just love the look of adoration and pure joy in Ava’s eyes.

Ava and daddy 6/29/08

And I thought this one was pretty sweet too. 🙂
Ava and Julian 6/29/08

See more Best Shot Monday posts over at Slurping Life (for this week only).

My little girl is 4

Today my little girl Ava turned 4. The past four years have passed in a blur. I can’t believe how quickly my little 8 lbs., 4 oz. baby has transformed into the smart, inquisitive, strong-willed, compassionate, beautiful little girl she is today.

We had an eco-friendly zero-waste birthday party (which I can’t wait to find the time to blog about!) on Saturday at a local farm. I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I would’ve liked, but I’m happy to say that everyone seemed to have a great time, the birthday girl included. (Notice the brother of the birthday girl – AKA Julian – hanging out off to the side there? Hehe)
Ava’s 4th birthday party - 6/21/08 Ava’s 4th birthday party - 6/21/08
(Felt birthday crown courtesy of Green Party Goods)

Today (Sunday) was Ava’s actual birthday and in addition to some books from us and her Aunt Carrie, lots of cute clothes from both sets of grandparents, and a butterfly pavilion from Grandma, she got a new bike. She was very excited about it, but not quite excited enough to give it a try outside just yet. 😉
Ava sees her new bike - 6/22/08 Trying out the bike - 6/22/08

My mom, sister and our family went out to dinner tonight to celebrate and then came back to our house for some birthday brownies and ice cream. Happy birthday, Ava!
Happy birthday to Ava - 6/22/08 Four years old! - 6/22/08

It was hard for me to choose just one best shot for the week, but I think if I had to choose only one, it would be the first picture I posted – of Ava smiling with her piggy birthday cupcakes (which Grandma did a great job on). 🙂

See more Best Shot Monday posts over at Mother May I?.

Getting your feet wet (BSM)

Even though I captured this with my P&S, I had a feeling it just might become my Best Shot Monday choice. The photo was taken a week ago last weekend as Jody and the kids waded into the freezing cold (at least, in my opinion) water of the Boulder Creek. The kids didn’t mind the water temp one bit and Jody endured it, ‘cuz that’s what daddies do. These are the types of moments that I never want to forget.

Ava, Julian and Jody getting their feet wet in the creek - 6/7/08

See more Best Shot Monday posts over at Mother May I?.

My backyard – where the wild things are (BSM)

Jody has been joking with me lately that I have turned into Snow White, Cinderella or some other character that all of the woodland animals love and are attracted to, as our backyard is turning into quite the animal sanctuary.

We by no means have a large yard (our whole lot is less than 1/4 of an acre), and, much to my chagrin, are surrounded by neighbors on all sides (not near a forest or field or anything), yet in the past few weeks we’ve had the following critters cohabitating in our yard:

  • 4 2 garter snakes (the first two made the unfortunate decision to venture into our redneck neighbor’s yard and soon met an untimely death)
  • 2 baby Blue Jays who were unable to fly (as well as their mother and father)
  • Several little green caterpillars
  • Bees
  • Oh, we also have another bird family living up in the eave of our house

Baby blue jay standing on my sunflower 6/5/08

Two baby Blue Jays - 6/7/08

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly seen me tweeting about the baby Blue Jays in our backyard over the past week and a half or so. First there was one on the ground for about a day, then it hopped it’s way up into a tree. The next day there was another baby on the ground, but this one stayed on the ground for about four days (and caused me endless worry the whole time) before getting up into the tree itself. I’m thrilled to report that as of Saturday, they were both up in the tree (and often sitting next to each other) with their parents. Hooray!

Ava and “Poozey” the caterpillar - 6/7/08

Ava has grown very fond of the caterpillars and names each one she catches “Poozey” (from ::groan:: Dragon Tales). She carries them all over the place (yes, even in the house) and puts them into a jar in hopes that they will build a cocoon and become a butterfly. When they haven’t metamorphosized by day 2 (and are generally looking a little peaked), she lets them go, finds a new one and starts the cycle all over again.

The snakes are another treat in our backyard. Everyone gets excited when we spot one and Julian exclaims, “Snakey! Snakey!” I tried to get a shot of “snakey” the other day, but it must not have been feeling very photogenic, as it was gone by the time I returned with my camera. I am hoping the snakeys will stay in our yard (or our other kind neighbor’s yard) though so I don’t have to witness any more snake killings. One was enough. 🙁 And who kills harmless snakes for no good reason anyway? Arg.

As for the bird family living up in the eave of our house, once again this year there just doesn’t seem to be enough room there for all of the babies. Each year one or two of the tiny birds fall down onto our back patio. They are so newly hatched that they don’t have any feathers and, thus, really never had a chance at survival. This year Julian was the one to discover the fallen baby bird. He picked it up and started waving it around saying “birdy, birdy, birdy” until Jody realized what he had and shook it out of his hand. Oy.

The bees keep us on our toes. I realize they perform a valuable function and I welcome them, but I am still a bit skittish around them. I’m trying not to pass my fear onto my kids, but I also want them to be cautious around bees so they don’t get stung. The other day there was a bee buzzing around the flowers. Ava exclaimed that she didn’t like bees because they can sting, so Jody and I tried to educate her about the importance of them and mentioned that they pollinate the flowers. Julian then went walking by the flowers and, Ava, who was concerned for his safety yelled out, “Be careful Julian, or you might get pollinated!” Cue peals of laughter from Jody and me. 🙂

Yes, our backyard is full of nature, stories of both life and death, lots of learning opportunities and funny times as well. It certainly keeps things interesting around here. 🙂

I think I’m going to call the shot above of the lone baby Blue Jay perched on my sunflower plant my Best Shot for this week. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to step outside, sing a song and see what other woodland creatures I can summon. 😉 Feel free to head on over to Mother May I to see what everyone else has in store for their Best Shot Monday posts.

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Best Shot Monday – 5/19/08

I’ve been slacking in the photography department and am going to use today’s post as an attempt to play catch up. My “best shot” will be at the end.

Between my birthday, Mother’s Day, Ava’s preschool May Pole Celebration, and every day life, there have been a lot of photo ops lately. Here are just a few (from the point & shoot and SLR). Oh, and I should mention I didn’t take the ones that I’m in. (Mouse over for captions.)

Julian LOVES his fruit. (Shirt from Polly Tod):
Julian eats a pear while wearing his “I love fruit” shirt - 5/4/08

My 33rd birthday (with a delicious carrot cake made by yours truly):
Happy birthday to me - 5/7/08Me and the kiddos - 5/7/08Julian is very eager to get his hands on the cake - 5/7/08

Mother’s Day:
a Mother’s Day walk with Julian and Ava - 5/11/08

The kids playing in the yard:
Julian in his new hat - 5/12/08Ava on the “new” playset - 5/12/08

I couldn’t pass up this photo op when I woke up before everyone else Saturday morning. Julian and daddy co-sleeping. :
Julian cosleeping with Daddy - 5/17/08

Ava’s Waldorf preschool May pole festivities:
Ava waiting patiently for her “crown” at the Maypole Celebration - 5/17/08Miss G putting on Ava’s Maypole crown - 5/17/08Watching her friend get her crown - 5/17/08Maypole dancing and singing - 5/17/08

More Maypole dancing - 5/17/08

– And my BSM –
You give a boy ONE piece of chocolate, step away for two minutes, and this is what happens…

Chocolate-faced Jules - 5/9/08
(Shirt from Trendy Tadpole)

Head on over to Mother May I to see what everyone else has in store for their Best Shot Monday posts.

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