Karate Kid

 

ninja(Image via here)

The grandparents were kind enough to sign The Littlest Farmer up for karate lessons as a birthday present.  I have no experience with karate and at first I was a bit ambivalent on the whole thing.  I was fearful that The Littlest Farmer would lose interest super fast and that it would be a huge struggle to get him to go to the FOUR (!!!) classes a week.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  Karate has been so fun and The Littlest Farmer has been doing so well in the class! 

Karate has it’s perks for me as well.  As a person who likes to dress up and utilize all the clothes in my closet but who lives on a farm and usually has a dollop of chicken scat on me most days, I relish the sartorial opportunity that going to karate FOUR (!!!) times a week presents.  Leaving the farm?  Actually interacting with society instead of farm animals?  Let me put on my best frock!!!  The instructors and other parents probably think I’m crazy but if I’m not overdressed I don’t feel comfortable.  Makes sense right?

Last week the instructor was telling the children in the class that Buddy Week was coming up.  Buddy Week, he explained, meant that you could bring a friend in to try out the class.  The instructor noted that, if you didn’t have friends, you could have your parent be your buddy.  Ha!  No, he didn’t really say it that way but we all knew what he meant anyway.  He said, “So if your parents are going to be your buddy, have them come in sweatpants and not a skirt and high heels” and at this point in the conversation he pointedly made eye contact with me.  Message received!  Since The Littlest Farmer and I have been best buds since utero, I agreed to be his buddy for this week.  As instructed, on Monday I put on my most dowdy sweats and wore them all day just to break them in for that night’s karate class.  Some time during the day I came down with pretty wicked lower back pain.  Hark!!!  Could this get me out of my involvement in Buddy Week?  No, I had already sacrificed too much (sweats!!!  All day!!!).  There was no turning back and plus, I couldn’t disappoint The Littlest Farmer.  What kind of overly involved helicopter parent would I be if I didn’t get in there with him?  So I popped two Advil and to class we went.  As we arrived and no other buddies materialized I had the sinking feeling that I (gulp) was the only buddy in this farce that was Buddy Week.  But it was too late…I was there, I was on the mat, I was a 34 year old woman surround by 5 and 6 year olds ready to kick my butt, The Littlest Farmer on one side, beaming, and on the other side…a child who looked positively horrified that I was even attempting to be in this karate class.  Overall, I did ok in karate class.  When it came time to do push ups I assumed the old horse position (in which you lift your head up with your arms but drag the rest of your body on the ground, barely lifting anything) and did my best.  At the end of every class they play Ninja Dodgeball (a major factor in why The Littlest Farmer loves karate so much) which involves the instructors lobbing a HUGE rubber yoga ball at the kids as the kids scream in glee and flee in terror.  My final test!  One last obstacle and I would be done!  I pranced and weaved, ducked and covered.  The Littlest Farmer got creamed, other kids dropped like flies.  I was still standing.  It was me and one other little boy.  In my head I was saying “Oh man, that kid is going down!  I am so gonna win this thing!” and then another voice in my head said, “You do realize this is a children’s karate class right?  You should probably let that kid win” and so I did let him win and took a yoga ball straight in the back for it.  The parents (who sit on a bench and who watched this whole sad spectacle unfold) let out a cheer!  As the kids finished the class I huffed and puffed and rued my completely non existent exercise routine.  If my involvement in Buddy Week taught me anything it’s that I should probably start working out.  Today we have karate class again and I am wearing my best dress and my highest heels!  Buddy Week be damned!  

Splat-Tastic!

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(Image via me)

The arrival of September means one thing in this household: party planning for The Littlest Farmer’s 5th birthday party!!!!  Actually, I started planning for his fifth birthday after all the guests had gone home from his fourth birthday party.  Yeah, I was THAT prepared!  Is it cruel (or micromanager) of me to just go ahead with my plan for my kid’s party without any say from him?  In my defense, he’s been perfectly fine with the parties I’ve devised so far. A year ago I started pinning ideas for an art themed party.  I liked this idea because I love art, The Littlest Farmer loves art and creating things, and I thought an art party would be a fun, gender neutral theme seeing as The Littlest Farmer has many friends of the female variety.  With this idea in place I searched Pinterest for inspiration:

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(Via here)

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(Via here)

I bought a huge canvas at Michaels, some large jugs of blue and green paint (The Littlest Farmer’s favorite colors!  Mine too!), some mini lettered canvases (one for each of The Littlest Farmer’s friends), and a large plastic artist’s palette.  I was taken with those Rice Krispy treat “brushes” in the photo above and felt that it would be pretty easy to recreate.  Man, I was wrong about that.  Rice Krispie treats, as it turns out, is a fickle medium.  Attempting to make them was like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears.  My first attempt came out perfect-the treats were pliable but held their form well, were easy to cut and shape…but I made that batch about a week before the party, just to see if it could be done, and they were promptly devoured.  The second batch came out hard as a rock.  Any attempt to cut or shape it ended with it shattering (no joke) into bits.  Ok then.  With my third batch I must have over compensated and added way too much butter or too little actual Rice Krispies because it came out soft and sticky and not at all likely to hold it’s shape.  Look upon my shameful attempt:

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(Image via me.  Pinterest fail for sure!)

So dumpy and lumpy and sad.  *Sigh*  Yeah, I should have just gone with cupcakes!  Ha!  However, the rest of the party went off without a hitch…except for the rain.  I had everything so carefully planned out but rain showers put a few glitches in my plan.  I was hoping for a more leisurely art making process but with storm clouds looming we had a brief window of opportunity to make our Splat-tastic art.  The kids were troopers though and they went fast and furious, throwing balls covered with paint at the canvas.  My Dad, who was kind enough to photograph it all, got splattered with a big blob of paint right to the forehead which caused some hearty belly laughs from the kids.

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(Image via me)

After everyone had gotten cleaned up we ate our lunch and lumpy paint brush confections and then the clouds parted again just in time for some silly string fun. 

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(Image via me)

Also, like last year, I made a shirt for The Littlest Farmer to wear to his party.  This one was easier to make because all I had to do was splash paint on a t-shirt.  Yay for easy projects!!!

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(Image via me)

What do they say about the best laid plans?  Even though I had been planning this shin dig for a year and thought  I knew exactly how it was going to go down, I was still thrown for a couple loops.  Over all though, the kids had fun and that’s what matters. 

California Trip

I cannot believe how fast summer went!  It seemed like I blinked and it was over.  We got one more family trip in right under the wire though!  The Littlest Farmer and I tagged along on a business trip that The Mister had to San Francisco.  We really only had two full days to explore but me and the little guy managed to accomplish a lot in those two days!  I had done some research before we left and decided that I really wanted to visit The Exploratorium Museum and Golden Gate Park.  I figured those two places would pack the most bang for a buck and keep my rambunctious four year old interested as well.  The Exploratorium Museum is located at Fisherman’s Wharf so we took a trolley down there on the first day.  The trolley system and subway system in San Fran is fairly easy to navigate, even for a country bumpkin like me, and a bonus is getting to ride in an old trolley car like you see below.  Some of the trolley cars are vintage ones that have been acquired from other places.  On the old cars there was usually a sign that said what year and where it was from.    

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(Image via me)

Let me tell you guys, the Exploratorium is pretty amazing!  It’s housed in a giant pier and seems like it goes on for miles!  There are all kinds of different exhibits like a slinky treadmill, optical illusions, a tornado machine and so much more.  We spent, no joke, two and a half hours there and we still didn’t see it all!  The Tinkering Gallery was a favorite for both me and The Littlest Farmer.  It had a giant pinball machine, a marble run, and this cool metal sculpture thing that was created from a metal string hanging from a bicycle wheel.  As the wheel turned the metal string seemed to hover in air (maybe it had something to do with a magnet too?) and if you touched the metal string it would twirl and spin and make these awesome shapes!  It was almost hypnotic!  I stared at it as long as I could before I had to chase after little man, who was making mad dashes for everything.  Another favorite was the machine below which, when you pressed on it, would shoot out a smoke ring that floated all the way to the ceiling!  

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(Image via me)

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(Image via me)

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(Image via me)

After two hours I decided it was finally time to go and I managed to drag the little guy outside only to discover we had gone the wrong way and we were now in the outside portion of the museum which had the amazing structure pictured below in it.  That’s when the realization that we were never leaving settled in on me.  Really Exploratorium?  Why you gotta be so awesome and stuff?  It’s truly an amazing place! 

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(Image via me)

We stayed at the Exploratorium way past lunch time so when I finally managed to get little man out of there we made a bee line for China Town, which was just a few blocks in from the wharf.  I quickly did a Google search for dim sum and found a Yelp review for Good Mong Kok Bakery.  It was nothing to look at from the outside but all the locals were lining up to get dumplings and pork buns so I was sold!  We got one shrimp dumpling, two sesame seed covered balls with bean paste inside, and two pork buns for $3 and change!  Best deal of the whole trip and the food was so good!  The only place I have found to have pork buns in VA is Charlottesville and that’s a bit of a drive for a pork bun craving!

The next day we decided to explore Golden Gate Park.  When I looked online I found that Golden Gate Park has many different attractions.  They have a carousel, a playground, an art museum, a botanical garden and more.  I was interested in visiting the California Academy of Sciences and the carousel, both of which I thought The Littlest Farmer would enjoy.  We started out at the California Academy of Sciences which has both an aquarium and a planetarium under it’s roof!  Two for one!  The building itself is pretty cool!  In the center is a bio dome with all these neat circular windows (shown below).  You can walk up the dome to experience the levels of the rainforest and view macaws and butterflies along the way.

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(Image via me)

Down on the lower level is the aquarium which had jelly fish, a touch tank, and a cool tunnel you could walk through surrounded by water.  While we were there divers were in the tank cleaning the glass and they would wave to the people underneath them!  That made The Littlest Farmers day! 

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(Image via me)

The albino alligator is called Claude.  He has quite the harrowing tale of woe, which was told to us by an aquarium volunteer.  He had been living with a female alligator but, perhaps not accustomed to his ghostly whiteness, she lashed out at him and BIT HIS (alligator) FINGER OFF!  Luckily for poor albino Claude, the disgruntled female was relocated and now Claude can have some peace.  Ha!  I’ve never had such tender feeling for an alligator until I heard Claude’s tale!  I was all like:

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(Image created here, #alligatorproblems credited to my friend JC)

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(Image via me.  I can never resist a good jellyfish picture!)

Also of note at the California Academy of Sciences was an amazing exhibit on earthquakes, the only downside of which was that they played the Emergency Broadcasting signal over the loud speaker and freaked me out for a good minute until I realized it was part of the exhibit!  Jumpy much?

After the museum we hiked over to the playground/carousel area.  The playground had these awesome concrete slides built into a hill.  All the kids had a piece of cardboard and they would whoosh down on them.  The Littlest Farmer played almost exclusively on the slides, they were that much fun!  After the playground, we took a ride on the carousel which had all kinds of beautiful animals.  The Littlest Farmer chose to ride on a reindeer with big horns. 

carousel

(Image via me)

After our two whirlwind days The Mister had some time to join us so we went to a baseball game at the AT&T Stadium, which had some neat features.  One was that it had these twisty slides located inside a giant metal coke bottle.  Sounds weird, I know, but when you have a squirmy four year old, it was as good a distraction as any!  Also, on the ground level, they had these really interesting edible gardens:

garden (Image via me)

Pretty neat huh?  The tall spiky plants are artichokes!  I’d never seen one still on the plant!  Only in CA right? 

Overall, we had a wonderful trip and it was so nice to get to spend some time as a family.  Hope this is helpful for anyone who may be going to San Francisco in the near future!  Bring on the school year!!!

Sea Creatures

Since the summer began there has been no shortage of sea creature crafts and activities for The Littlest Farmer and I to try.  One activity that The Littlest Farmer really enjoyed (and still pulls out a month later!) was making Sea Slime.  I followed the recipe from this website and bought a container of plastic sea creatures from Michaels.  The Littlest Farmer had so much fun making the goo ooze out of his hands, watching the sea creatures get sucked in by the slime, and pretending that the animals were swimming and interacting with each other.  

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(Image via me)

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(Image via me.  The animals catching a wave.)

In the spring we had house guests who were kind enough to bring us a bag of sea shells they had collected on a recent beach vacation.  I had come across this craft for creating sea creatures out of shells so we tried our hand at that.  The Littlest Farmer loved his tiny baby sea turtle.  He even made a nest for it and then created his own touch tank for both the turtle and the crab.  This kid never met an aquarium touch tank he didn’t like. 

crab

(Image via me)

We recently took a vacation as well but it was to Lake George, NY so we didn’t get to collect any shells on our trip but it was tons of fun and beautiful up there.  I’ll post pictures when I get them onto my computer.  Hope you are all enjoying the last bits of summer! 

Wild Kingdom

This summer has been the summer of wildlife encounters at the farm.  It started in the spring with our baby bunny sighting.  As summer has progressed, we’ve gotten to see many more creatures.  We found this little box turtle as we were adding to our compost pile:

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(Photo by me)

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(Photo by me)

I attempted to capture his likeness in a watercolor painting but I’m not sure I did him justice. 

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(Photo by me)

Then, a few weeks ago, we started seeing this guy running through our yard:

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(Photo by The Mister)

This koi pond is right outside our living room windows so every time he visits to get a drink we get a front row view.  And if you are worried for the safety of any koi who might be in the pond, don’t worry!  There are no koi in the pond to be eaten!  As with the turtle, The Littlest Farmer and I decided to celebrate the fox with a craft.  We made this toilet paper roll fox in honor of him.

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(Photo by me)

One backyard visitor who didn’t get such a warm welcome: a juvenile copperhead snake!!!  Eeekkkk!  Nothing like a deadly snake to scare the pants off of this mother!  The Littlest Farmer is now tromping around the yard in a pair of knee high boots and staying clear of the tall grass. 

I’ll leave you with a funny story: Today The Mister and I were outside when all of a sudden a random chicken we had never seen before materialized out of a bush in our yard.  The Mister and I were just staring at it like, “Where did you come from and where are you suppose to be?”  Mystery Chicken seemed perturbed and just a wee bit lost but it hustled it’s way across our yard and into our neighbor’s yard (who, it seems, have just gotten chickens).  Just another visitor to the farm!  Oh the things you deal with when living in the country!

Summer!

Hello all!  How is everyone enjoying their first few weeks of summer?  The Littlest Farmer and I have been living it up.  We’ve managed to keep ourselves somewhat occupied, doing a little of this and a little of that, outings on some days and fun play dates with our friends on other days.  Even though we live right near the James River we haven’t really spent much time on the riverbank and The Littlest Farmer had yet to have a formal introduction until a few days ago.  He and I had an afternoon to kill and the weather was sweltering so I decided it was a great day to lounge by the river.  We walked across the pedestrian bridge (which in itself was an adventure for The Littlest Farmer!  He said the cars driving overhead sounded like thunder) to Belle Isle.  If you’ve never been it’s really interesting to read about the civil war prisoners that were kept there. 

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(Photo by me)

When we got to the river we found a neat little spot where it seems as if some of the people frequenting the river had arranged rocks in a circle pattern in the water.  It created a little tide pool that was super fun to swim in.  I told The Littlest Farmer that it looked like a hot tub and he told me it was a COLD tub because the water wasn’t hot, it was cold!  The things kids say!  Ha!  Besides all the fun we had swimming and climbing over the rocks it was also really great to interact with the diverse groups of people who were there enjoying the river with us.  I love people watching so it was great for me!

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(Photo by me)

When we aren’t exploring the city there has been plenty to do to occupy ourselves at Lonely Oak Farm.  Monty has been shedding his feathers and The Littlest Farmer and I have been collecting them when we come across one.  Monty is shedding his large, white side wing feathers at the moment so The Littlest Farmer often uses them in play and pretends to fly.  I really love the picture below.  I think it just captures the joy of summer and also The Littlest Farmer’s animal loving/imaginative spirit so well. 

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(Photo by me)

We’ve been spending tons of time in the garden now that our plants are starting to produce.  On this particular day, pictured below, we took stock of our garden haul: four asparagus stalks, two flowering stems and a partridge in a pear…..oh wait, no.  It was just one tiny (orange!!!) grasshopper (in the bell jar there).  We are now rolling in zucchini and cucumbers.  If anyone has a cucumber recipe they’d like to share please do! 

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(Photo by me)

And on lazy days, of which there are many, we lounge in the hammock under a clear blue sky, listening to the incessant chant of a turkey panting.   You really can’t beat that!

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(Photo by me)

I hope all of you are having wonderful adventures this summer!  I’d love to hear about them!  Any places around Richmond The Littlest Farmer and I should check out?

Festival Fun

It is officially Festival season here in Virginia.  It seems the weekends are packed with fun things to do now that the weather is turning nicer.  After a particularly hard parenting week (mostly because The Littlest Farmer’s first full week out of daycare coincided with the Mister taking a business trip, leaving me with the task of entertaining my child ALL DAY, EVERY DAY) the thought of sticking around the house this weekend was a less than pleasant one.  I hit the web and found out that the Renaissance Fair was in nearby Spotsylvania this weekend.  Oh yeah!  People in awesome themed costumes?  Check.  A chance to learn about history?  Check.  The possibility to eat a huge knob of meat?  Check.  I was so there!  Here are some photos from our outing:

afterlight (20) (Getting into character.  Image by me)

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(No Ren Fair is complete without some frolicking and fairy wings.  Image by me)

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(This guy was awesome and The Littlest Farmer was totally freaked out by him!  Image by me)

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(Image by me)

The Littlest Farmer loved this game in which you had to stand on a wobbly board and try to pull an opponent off their wobbly board by tugging on a rope.  Those Renaissance peeps really know how to have fun, don’t they?  We played it no less than five times. 

Not surprisingly, The Littlest Farmers favorite part was the Ye Old Greyhound Tent in which rescued Greyhounds lounged luxuriously on tufted pillows.  Of course he goes straight for the dogs.  I wonder where he gets that from:

miaandme  (Image by me)

As I recall, I’ve only ever been to one other Renaissance Fair when I was living in NY so it was fun for me to people watch and take it all in and it was also fun to expose The Littlest Farmer to the wackiness that is the Ren Fair (i.e.: busty maids in wench costumes, the faint smell of clove cigarettes, and fake elf ears).  The girly girl in me was swooning over the fairy wings and floral crowns but then the stay at home Mom/farmer in me was calculating the cost per wear of said fairy wings.  Not sure my present lot in life really allows for many opportunities to wear intricate and delicate fairy wings!  Ha! 

So that was our wacky Renaissance Fair weekend.  Those of you who are local: Did you hit up any fun festivals this weekend?

Easter recap

Not much to report from Lonely Oak Farm since Easter happened so I thought I would just bore you all to tears by recapping the holiday.  I really geared you up to be excited for this, didn’t I?  Ha!  Easter was pretty tame for us.  The day before Easter (that would be Saturday) we had a play date here on the farm with my good friend and her two children.  We decided that since neither her children nor The Littlest Farmer had participated in an Easter egg hunt (and Easter was the next day) that we should try to put one together (last minute).  That meant scavenging my house for little doo dads to throw in the eggs and my friend did the same for her share of the eggs.  This made for some pretty random Easter egg fillers.  Most were balloons, some loose change, some erasers, rubber bands,  and tiny rubber animals.  It sounds so paltry and thrown together (which it was) but I am always amazed at what kids get excited about.  For example, my friend and I laughed about the left over “Happy Birthday” balloons that were in the eggs but my child played with that balloon none stop for a week straight!  We sometimes forget that kids can do a lot more with a lot less. 

I didn’t get many good pictures from the egg hunt but these are my two favorites:

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(Photo by me.  I love a gal that color coordinates her outfit with the lilacs!)

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(Photo by me.  This one cracks me up!  She’s like, “What the heck is this?”)

The next day The Mister left early for a business trip (whomp, whomp) so it was just me and The Littlest Farmer for the Easter on Parade event.  I wish I had gotten pictures of some of the ladies.  There was a lot of awesome fashion happening- women came out in their Sunday best with beautiful dresses, hats, and fascinators.  Alas, The Littlest Farmer was not having it (I have one picture of him from the event and he has major pouty face happening) so we got a HUGE bag of kettle corn and called it a day.  By the time dinner rolled around I had done nothing but eat kettle corn so I figured, since I was cooking for myself basically, I would make something super healthy.  Enter this recipe for cauliflower rice I found on Pintrest:

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(Image via The First Mess-seriously good website for veggie recipes!)

Oh my gosh!  It was so good!  Anything with avocado and chickpeas is ok with me!  So that’s it.  My Easter in a nutshell!  Hope I didn’t bore you too much!  Tomorrow I am off to FL for some R&R with The Littlest Farmer!  Have a great weekend!