June 24, 2016
by jenny
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The Bus Stop Tree

There is a tree at our school bus stop (a few houses down from our house).

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It is an awesome bus stop tree. It not only serves as a shade from the sun, fairly efficient umbrella protection from light rain, but is a great climbing tree, and serves as a landmark for the kids to not go further into the neighbor’s property while waiting for the bus.

For the past three springs, the bus stop tree has been almost completely defoliated by winter moth inch worms. This year I was blown away and totally intrigued by the canopy it produced – a huge, thick, lush canopy.

The first thing I noticed this spring was how thick the greenery came in after the years of very very light and eaten away vegetation. The second thing I noticed was that the tree made two different kinds of leaves! TWO KINDS OF LEAVES! Two different colored and shaped leaves. I thought the lighter thinner leaves that came in second would turn into something else, but they have stayed leaves.

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And then! The tree got even more interesting when it made these bud shoots that if you are into data structures, look like ternary trees, and if you aren’t into data structures, look like the possibly start of fractals, and if you aren’t into fractals, they just look really cool. The tree just gets more amazing and interesting.

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It took me a while searching around to identify what kind of tree this is, but it appears to be an American Linden Tree, also called a basswood, and part of the Tilia family.

This was my last year of being required to stand out at the bus stop with my children. This was the first year the two trees in our front year were eaten bare  by inchworms in the spring, but I’m really glad they moved on and I got to meet the Bus Stop tree in full spring glory this season! Very cool.

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June 23, 2016
by jenny
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Raspberry Rainbow

I knew there were black raspberries. And I knew there white raspberries. But when we went to Wegman’s this week, we saw Golden and Sunshine Raspberries! Wow!

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The people who love raspberries in our house (my husband, my oldest and me), really really love raspberries. We were surprised to see the variety. My son likes raspberries well enough, but not fanatical like the rest of us. We had a taste test.

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Since it is red raspberry season, the red raspberries were great, sweet and delicious. They were my husbands favorite. But my two kids who entered the taste test and I all preferred the Sunshine raspberries, and thought they were just a little juicier and sweeter than the traditional (for us) red raspberries. The golden raspberries were probably not quite as fresh, seemed a little soft and didn’t have quite as much flavor as the others, so ended in last place.

Hooray for summer produce!!!!

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June 16, 2016
by sarah
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Boredom and The Carrot

Summer vacation starts for us next week. I am excited. I think I am in the sweet spot. My oldest is still young enough to have fun at a playground or wants to snuggle. And my youngest is more and more independent. I going to bring a chair to the beach and maybe something to read.

I have been thinking about a couple things:

  1. Summer School – I have been making these little books. Each kid has customized ones. Names, different width of lines, and color. Check out this video to see how to make them (Hint – dental floss = waxed thread) We have been thinking about reading and writing goals. I am going to use some of these printable too. IMG_2453 IMG_2452 IMG_2451
  2. Boredom – I want my kids to be bored this summer. I know I have to get over the initial banter and fighting that starts when they are bored. I have to be patient and push through and remember that the coolest forts, funniest games, and most creative art projects come out of boredom.
  3. The Carrot – To make both number 1 and 2 work I need to figure out the carrot for my children. I think it will be screen time. Maybe ice cream for dinner. What is the carrot you use?
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June 8, 2016
by jenny
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You know what might be fun?

It might be really fun to have a whole fleet of tandem bicycles and bicycles with side cars and throw a huge open house outdoor barbecue somewhere with good music a place to ride bicycles and lots of random strangers and friends and see what happens.

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May 31, 2016
by sarah
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Black board paint

IMG_2402 IMG_2350My Ball jar obsession continues. I have recently painted the top round lid (not the band) with black board paint. Black board paint is just black paint with a matte or flat shine (or lack there of). Now I can lable my jars. I started labeling with normal chalk. Today I bought and experimented with chalk markers. Both come off with water. The black paint does not come off in the dish washer! I think because I took a little sand paper and scuffed up the metal lid before I painted it.

 

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May 23, 2016
by jenny
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Toad

We have toads that live under our front steps. We often see them on our front walk when we take our dog out later at night in the spring and summer. Sometimes we’ll see one hopping around when mowing the lawn. But we rarely ever see them when outside playing, hanging around, looking for something like a toad to come by and give us something to do.

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And then last week, my husband did spot one. He was weed whacking, the kids were in school, but I was happy to take a break from work and he was happy to stop to stare at the toad on a hop through our ground cover for a while too. We talked about building a little house for him and even got out a bin to keep him in until the kids got home, but then we decided to let him be, not to even pick him up, and to just take a few pictures instead.

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Of course, not many nature interactions can happen in my world without spinning my brain into questions and curiosities mode, so I did a little follow up research on toads afterwards. I was surprised to find out that there really aren’t many species of frogs and toads found in Massachusetts (only two types of toad!) (Here is a good summary of them all.). This toad is likely an American Toad male because his throat is darker, only the males make a bunch of noise and the equivalent of vocal chords show up darker. They eat slugs, which we certainly have around in the evenings as well!

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I wonder how many species of frog Sarah can find near her house! I know I’ve seen two for sure!

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May 20, 2016
by sarah
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Paper flowers

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I love the flowers in my garden in late May and June: peonies, iris, and daisy. They aren’t ready yet. I have found these DIY paper flowers to tide me over until I can have a bouquet of real flowers. I have got to say that the print outs are the most beautiful water color templates I have ever seen.

Hint: The instructions say to use a glue gun. I used a glue stick just fine. I also used old hangers instead of floral wire.

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May 19, 2016
by sarah
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You’ve Got Balls!!

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This might be quite the stretch to transition from Jenny’s gutsy post to Ball jars, but I’ll give it a try….

I do want to give Jenny lots of credit for putting her self out there and being vulnerable about something so personal. I think her last post has and will help people with their various different kinds of friendships. Thank you! You’ve Got Balls!!

Now on to my love of Ball jars. They are very trendy now. I remember maybe five years ago trying to find them in the store and having to drive to random hardware stores far away to purchase them. Now they are at every super market and craft store in various sizes and shapes. Some with handles and others with tops that accommodate straws. I hope I’m considered old school – I liked them because I wanted to can stuff in them. Mostly pickles!

I had this dream of growing so many veggies from my garden that we would can lots of stuff to “put up” for the winter. With a family of five the veggies rarely get into the house. Peas are eaten in the yard, potatoes might last a couple weeks, and I freeze the pesto. Now I have lots of extra jars. They are very useful. I put flowers in them, ice tea (and giggle because it looks like moon shine), salad dressing, and leftovers.  I also keep pantry food fresh in them, like rice, brown sugar, or popcorn.

Here is the recipe for the soup in the Ball jar on the left: Vegetable Barley Soup. YUMM!!

 

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