Row, Row, Row Your… Blueberries?

Folks, there are some incredibly awesome
homeschool curriculums out there.

This will probably “date me,” but many of the now-popular time-tested homeschool curricula was not even created when we began homeschooling our older girls! New programs written just for the homeschooling lifestyle were just beginning to come out, but having grown up in what “school is supposed to look like,” I was definitely wary of trying them out during our first few years. If I did get brave enough, those new methods were tacked on as extras on top of our “real school” workbooks and lesson plans that were completed in our little school desks or at the chalkboard. (I even had a bell to ring to let the girls know our day was ready to begin. I am not kidding.)

One of those new, innovative curriculums was called “Five in a Row.”

Actually, by the time I heard of it, I was fine with trying something new and focusing our school days around the wonderful books we were reading. But… We were always “a little ahead” of the Five in a Row series as they were being released. Our girls seemed to be just beyond the recommended ages.



…There’s a new toddler (actually four new toddlers!) in our lives, and I can’t wait to use the fun stuff this time around! Thankfully Jane Claire Lambert also came out with Before Five in a Row… a fun volume created just for preschoolers! So we tried our first “Rowing” experience last week!


It’s blueberry harvesting time on our little homestead, so we thought Blueberries for Sal would be a good book to start with. Our daughter Kate and her two littles came over, as well as my sweet friend Beth who is homeschooling her second batch of kiddos. She’s a Five in a Row veteran, so we sure appreciated her expertise! All in all, we had five little people ages 4 and under. Four boys and a tiny girl. (GrandNana came and stole the girl!)


Since we had a variety of ages, we took it easy with the activities.
Beth read aloud Blueberries for Sal. The older boys knew the story well, and listened from afar until the bears showed up in the story. One toddler boy had his nose right up against the book as it was being read, and the other toddler boy repeated the word “Mama” every time it was read. The tiny girl seemed more interested in eating the book than listening to the story.


We figured action was going to be the best plan, so the next thing we did was head outside to pick blueberries. Picking was definitely the highlight of the day! Beth had brought the perfect little buckets, and the blueberries went “kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk” as they dropped in the pails, just like in the story! And, just like in the story, many berries were eaten before they made it into a bucket. The boys also thought it was grand fun to pour their berries into each other’s buckets. There were leaves and sticks involved.


After the picking, we headed inside for some homemade blueberry muffins and milk. (Recipe below!) Four hungry boys, three Mama’s, and a big sister (actually two big sisters?) gobbled them up! While the kids were finishing their muffins, cut-out “blueberries” were hidden around the family room and the boys had a fun time searching for them! Next, we sorted pompoms by color, making sure we put the “blueberries” in a pot so we could can them and “have food for the winter.”


We had a couple other activities planned, including “Follow Your Mama” and an art project, but we decided with the extremely hot weather and quickly approaching naptimes, we’d better quit while we were ahead! All in all, we had a really fun time “Rowing” our first Five in a Row book with this little group of friends! Can’t wait to try it again!

Nana’s Sweet (Blueberry) Muffins!

Sift together 2 cups Flour, 1/2 cup Sugar, 2 teaspoons Baking Powder, and 1/2 teaspoon Salt. Add in 1 cup Milk, 1 beaten Egg, and 1/4 cup Oil or Melted Butter. (I tend to go for the butter, but I add it to the cold milk to cool it down a bit so it doesn’t cook the egg!) Stir until just mixed and fold in about 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries. Spoon into a greased muffin pan (12-cup) and sprinkle a little sugar on top… Raw sugar looks really pretty! Bake about 15-20 minutes at 400°. Take them out when they smell awesome, are firm on top, and are just beginning to brown. Serve with butter if you like!

This is adapted from my Nana’s Sweet Muffin recipe,
and they are every bit as good without the blueberries!
Nana Anne always made these with Jiffy Mix, but I fiddled
with the recipe until I got it as close as possible to hers!


Special thanks to Kylie for her picture-taking abilities!!!




Our Second Rodeo…

One of our dearest. lifelong friends…
(You have some of those, don’t you?
If not, you need to start cultivating some!
They come in handy later on!)
…has a saying when it comes to raising their second crop of kiddos…

This ain’t our first rodeo.

It makes me laugh every time I hear it, and now I’m finding
that Hubby and I spit it out every once in a while, especially when we’re feeling pretty confident and experienced about being a mom and dad!


But sometimes it still sort of feels like the first time we climbed on the back of that bucking bronco called parenting. Because they’re all different kids who have their own unique personalities. Because they don’t come with an instruction manual. Because the first two were girls and now there are a LOT of Matchbox cars around here. Because I’m not twenty-something this time around. Because how in the world do you fold up this stroller ?!?!? Because foster care and adoption can change your family dynamics for a day… a weekend… a few months… or forever!

Really loving that forever part!

Getting back in the saddle, though, has forced me to put into use all those one-liners I randomly toss at my girls about being a mom so I can practice what I preach. It has put me back on my knees daily… especially when I get bucked off and land on my backside. (This might be taken literally as well as figuratively. You are welcome to donate Tylenol and Icy Hot.) It has made me realize just how wise our parents and grandparents were, and made me ashamed for the many times I brushed off their wisdom as “old fashioned.” It has forced Hubby and I to go searching through our own dusty-attic-brains for the timeless truths and ancient wisdom we finally learned about parenting, and then packed up neatly into storage bins.


I have always admired the moms with 3 or 4… or 6… or a dozen kids, who slowly build their arsenal of child-raising techniques. They are truly experts at their craft, able to come up with an activity out of their heads that will entertain both toddlers and teens for an entire afternoon, while simultaneously handling housework, cooking dinner, and running a home business. I want to be that mom. However, when you raise two closely spaced kiddos and then jump off the saddle for a decade or two, you can expect a few bruises when you climb back on. (You mean you’d like dinner AND clean socks?) So, I thought maybe it would help someone else if we made a list of parenting wisdom as it comes back to us!

In no certain order…

  1. Take naps. (One of those “old fashioned ideas” I brushed off as a young mom. Seriously. Do this.)
  2. A package of Dollar Store pom-poms and a muffin tin go a long way.
  3. Strong, sturdy, sippy cups with non-removable lids. (No explanation needed.)
  4. Consistency, consistency, consistency. Be consistent about this.
  5. Pray. A lot. Get friends to pray for you too.
  6. Be Present.
  7. Pick your battles wisely.
  8. Make friends with “Boy Moms.” They are Very Very Wise.
  9. Limit the toy stash… Rotate if needed.
  10. It’s okay to be “old school.”


Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass.
~Psalm 37:5~