Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy 4th Birthday Blue Rock!

Last week Blue Rock turned 4.  It's amazing how fast these first years of life truly fly by.  God has blessed me with such a wonderful and amazing son.  I truly love being his mom.

One birthday tradition we started doing last year was my husband and I decorated his bedroom the night before his birthday.  We decorated his door and blew up lots and lots of balloons.  I also hung four number 4s from the ceiling. Last year we hung a bunch of 3s.  It was neat how he remembered the numbers from last year.  The night before his birthday he asked me if he was going to get lots of 3s hanging from the ceiling.  I told him not 3s this year but 4s since he was turning 4.  He loved it!

The morning of his birthday he ran into my room and said, "Mom! Mom! Come see my room, I have so many balloons in my room!" He was so excited!

Since we already had his big birthday party, I kept things pretty low key on his actual birthday. We met one of his good friends, Jacob, in the morning at a playground and they played for about two hours.  Then we met my husband, parents, sister, and grandmother for lunch at Chick-Fil-A. He loved it. Then my sister and I took him swimming. He's putting his head under the water now and I think before summer is over he'll be swimming on his own. He will swim if your hand is under him, doesn't have to touch him, but he wants you right there. He's such a dare devil in so many ways but with water he's not, thank goodness! I love water, love scuba diving, but know it doesn't take much for a child to drown in a pool. Once he gets the hang of things he'll be swimming like a fish.

Blue Rock's 4-year check-up with the doctor went great. The nurse and doctor were very impressed with everything he knew and said he's very advanced.  The nurse said a lot of 4-year olds still don't know their shapes, colors, and letters and many have a difficult time following directions for the hearing and vision tests. He's known his letters, numbers, and shapes since before he turned 2 so not sure why it's a big deal. His eye sight is great, his hearing is perfect, which I'm relieved since when he was born we had to go to an audiologist for his left ear which ended up being fine at the time but he hasn't been tested since. The doctor was impressed that he knew his phone number, parent's name, and answered all her questions correctly. She was impressed he could spell his first and last name. He could spell his first and last name when he was 2 as well, we lived in a foreign country and we wanted him to be as prepared as could be if he got away from us. The main thing I wanted to address was how little he sleeps. He sleeps maybe 9.5 hours - 10 hours per day. He stopped napping at 18 months but used to sleep quite a bit more at night. She said some kids just don't need as much sleep. We'll put him to bed at 8pm and he'll lay there until past 10pm still awake. She said as long as he's not playing that's fine. So I guess I don't need to worry about it. It just makes for one exhausted Mama!!  

I hired my friend to make his birthday cake.  She was going to make it for his party but got strep the week before.  It was beautiful and perfect.  Chocolate on chocolate, my son's favorite!  

So many things have changed from 4 years ago. I still think back to that early morning in Germany when he was born. The sun was rising up over the mountain outside my room at the hospital and my sweet baby was placed in my arms. Blue Rock , we love you so much and enjoy all the fun and excitement you bring to our lives.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quick and Easy Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Cobbler out of the oven
I love cobbler!  I mean, I really really love cobbler.  Yet I had never made a cobbler.  Usually I make fruit crisps using oatmeal rather than cobblers which use flour.  The other day I decided to make my first cobbler.  I have to say, it was delicious, better than any restaurant cobbler I've had.  It was also easy.  You can use any fruit you want.  Peaches, pears, cherries, apples, blackberries, raspberries, or my favorite blueberries.

Blueberry Cobbler
makes 4 servings


- 3 cups of frozen or fresh blueberries (I used organic frozen blueberries), if frozen, let thaw for about 20 minutes, thawing in the pan is fine.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 stick of butter, chilled


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place blueberries in an 8x8 baking pan.  Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar.
3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Slice the chilled butter and mix it into the dry ingredients.  It's best to use your hands.  Mix until it looks like crumbs.  Sprinkle flour mixture over blueberries.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven until lightly golden.  Serve with ice cream if you'd like.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

First Crops Planted in our Garden Tower

Yesterday afternoon we planted our first crops in our Garden Tower.  It took me a while to research and decide what to plant in the Tower for June since June is not a huge planting month.  I went with some starter plants to start with.  Hopefully something will work out.  If nothing else, I'm sure my herbs will do fine.  I also bought some seeds today and will plant a few of those soon.  I bought organic, GMO-free plants and seeds.  I found a local store where you can buy seeds in bulk for a fraction of the cost of starter plants.  My start plants cost $2.95-$3.49 each.  I spent $28.32 for the crops listed below.  At my local feed and grain store I spent $5.65 for 6 different varieties of seeds.  In the future I'm going to start with just the seeds. 

One thing I'm learning about gardening is that it takes time.  In God's time we'll have food.  Watching our garden grow has been a great listen on patience for Blue Rock.  I included the maturity time for each plant.  It seems like the average time for most crops to grow is about 2 months.  If we were having to grow food for our survival we would really need to be on top of this and constantly plant something new after harvesting another one. Also the bigger the crop, the longer it takes to grow.  Cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkins take the longest.

Zucchini Black Beauty: Maturity 48 days after planting (fruit size 2"x8" long)
Cucumber: Maturity 50-60 days after planting (fruit size 8-10" long)
Green Okra Clemson Spineless: Maturity 50-64 days (fruit size 3" long)
Cantaloupe: We planted this on top of our tower: Maturity 85 days (fruit size 3-5 lbs)
Sweet Basil: can harvest now
Peppermint: can harvest now
Oregano: can harvest now

Watermelon Crimson Sweet: Maturity 80 days after planting (20 lbs) - we planted this in it's own large container

Here are the seeds I purchased this afternoon.  Some I will plant now, some we'll wait until early Fall.  These came from bulk bins and the price was for a scoop of seeds.  The scoop is about the size of 1-2 Tbs.  The salesclerk helping me put in a heaping scoop of each seed in each bag.  He said to put them in the freezer and they'll last for years.

Oregon Sugar Pod Pea: Maturity 65 days - $.60
Sugar Snap Pea: Maturity 70 days- $.50
Buttercrunch Lettuce: 55 Days $1
Paris Island Romaine Lettuce: Maturity 66 days - $1
Danvers Half Long Carrot: Maturity 73 days - 1.75
Detriot Dark Red Beet: Maturity 59 days - $.80

I also bought two kinds of pumpkin seeds which are not listed in the prices above.  They both take 100 days to reach maturity.  These I will most likely plant in the ground or a large container.  I got a large variety for carving and a small variety for painting.  I think Blue Rock will enjoy helping us harvest the pumpkins and carving and decorating them this Fall.

All of our plants right now are in containers.  We are trying to decide where to start our in ground garden.  We have a lovely sprinkler system that we don't want to damage so that's why we haven't broken ground on our in ground garden yet.

Planting starter plants in the Garden Tower was very easy.  We took a shovel and scooped our some of the soil and then placed the plant inside, then placed soil back around the plant. 

If you're interested in buying a Garden Tower, you can order one here

Blue Rock helping set out our starter plants


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Really Cool Tegu Blocks!

My parents got these really cool blocks for Blue Rock for his birthday. I saw these blocks at a homeschool convention I went to recently and suggested this for a gift option.  Blue Rock loves them!  They are probably the coolest blocks you'll ever see.  They are called Tegu Blocks and made of natural wood and magnets.  Because of the magnets you can create all sorts of neat structures.  The magnets are completely sealed so they are safe for any age.  Here are a few things Blue Rock has created recently.

He made letters and numbers

He built a house
He got a robot for his birthday and decided to make a wooden robot friend
Cool building

A tunnel or underpass for his big truck

A balloon

A dog

Some crazy animal

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Our 4 year old's Big Backyard Birthday Party

Today we celebrated Blue Rock's 4th birthday. We decided to have it at our house this year. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone here. I love having people over but the list grew and grew and before we knew it over 50 people had said they were coming! 25 kids came and 26 adults. I was honestly not sure if everyone would fit comfortably in my backyard. The party turned out great. God took care of the rain and we had a beautiful day. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

One key thing to having a big party at your house and not having a wrecked house is to keep it outside. Of course anyone was free to come in and go to the bathroom as needed or change clothes.  I just didn't want wet children coming in and out of my house and potentially getting into things that are off limits.  I don't mind smaller groups but that many would create quite the clean up, especially once they started eating cake.  In my original plans I had a number of games set up including a relay.  When the kids got here they were having so much fun exploring and playing that we threw most of the "structured" games out the window.  The only games we did were the water balloon toss, even though some of the kids didn't join in because they were busy playing on the water slide and small groups played pin the tail on the donkey.

We didn't get to invite everyone we wanted so we invited Blue Rock's Sunday school class from church and the kids in our small group that are his age, some really good friends we used to go to church with across town, and a few friends I grew up with including my best friend and her family. In addition we invited my parents, aunt, and siblings. Blue Rock really wanted to invite his whole class from preschool. However, I thought it might already be overwhelming. There were also some kids from my Moms Club I wanted to invite but like I said it was already going to be a full house.  And I was getting a little stressed because I had never hosted this many people before.  Thankfully once the party started it went very smoothly and I'm glad we had it at our house.

I really love backyard birthday parties. We were able to invite more people than if we were having the party at a bounce house or Chuck E. Cheese like we did last year.  We didn't have a ton of money to spend (and I spent more than I was planning on) but with our budget I came up with the following. I'm only including my budget to help others decide what they might want to do for their kids parties. I did a lot of research and planning and it really helped me to get ideas from others and know what things cost and how they cut corners.

Big Water slide, this is also our birthday gift to Blue Rock.  This should last all summer and we may get to use it again next year which would be a big bonus! - $300 (if we rented one it would cost around $250, so we decided to buy one and make it Blue Rock's birthday present as well)
Big Trampoline - already own
Swing Set - already own
Log Cabin Play House - already own
Bean bag toss game - $8
Ring/horse shoe game - $8
Small pool - $10
Food and drinks - I bought 40 sandwiches, a fruit tray, and a veggie tray from Target's Deli. Since we were having around 50 people I cut one tray of 20 sandwiches in half which was perfect for the kids. Blue Rock didn't even eat any.  This way I ended up with 60 sandwiches. I also bought lots of bags of chips and lots of juice and water. I spent around $125 for food and drinks.
Cake - a friend of mine was going to bake one for me but she got sick so I got one from Costco - $20
Water balloons - $15
Big Balloons - $10 (Dollar Tree)
Plates, napkins, etc. - $10
Party Favors: big loopy straw, chalk, and bubbles (which I forgot to hand out!) - $25

I think that was about it. That comes to around $531. If we don't include the cost of the water slide since it doubles as his birthday present then the average cost per child is $9.24.  Of course we bought enough food to feed the adults so if you added them in the equation that would come to around $4.53 per person and we had food left over.  However, the biggest hit was his birthday gift, the water slide. I'm really glad we bought one.  Next year the overall cost of the party will be less if we did the same party again with the water slide.  The stations might change a little but the big attractions, water slide and trampoline would be the same.  The cost for the party was honestly not bad. His party at Chuck E. Cheese last year cost around $300 and there were only around 8 kids plus adults. We bought extra food to feed everyone and extra tokens.  It's still expensive but if you're creative you could do a party like this for less.  You also don't have to worry if kids bring their siblings.  A few things to make a party less expensive would be have a slip n' slide instead of a water slide.  Invite less people.  Not feed them lunch or make the lunch.  I considered doing a nacho bar and making a crock pot of queso and beans and add additional toppings to put on top but decided I needed to make it less stressful and just have someone else do the food.  You could even make the sandwiches yourself.  Target's sandwiches cost around $1 per sandwich so that is really a good price.  They were also very good.  The fruit trays cost as much or more than the sandwich trays.  The main thing kids want to do is play with their friends and have fun.  If you've had your child's birthday party at home and have blogged about it, please leave a comment with the link below.  I'd love to read about it.  Here are some pictures from his birthday party.  Thanks everyone for coming!

Sweet birthday boy!

Big trampoline and water slide

Pin the tail on the donkey
Ride on toys, log cabin, and non wet games

Kiddie pool

Pin the tail on the donkey

Party favors

Getting ready to take the slide down

About to open presents

This mess was from just one kid.  Glad the main party was outside! :)

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