Category Archives: Traditions

Blueberries…for me

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We went blueberry picking! I thought we would never be able to find the extra time. (We bought a house and moved within the last month, unpacked and painted, drove to Illinois to mourn a relative, and enjoyed many, many lovely visits with extended family). Although we missed the Florida opportunities for picking blueberries, we were able to catch the last week of a local blueberry farm near Gram and Pappy's house – just north of Atlanta.

I was so excited. I've never been to a u-pick farm and I was super excited to take Ronan. We talked all the way there about picking the berries. When we finally got started, we found a shady spot and proceeded to fill our buckets…for about twenty minutes. And, then the novelty was over for him. It may have something to do with the fact that he doesn't actually like to eat blueberries or that we were visiting relatives he doesn't get to see that often. I entertained him for another forty-five minutes or so and with my bucket only a quarter of the way full, we headed to checkout. We weighed in at a pound a half (which means that after two batches of muffins and a few hastily-eaten handfuls, we are out of blueberries). 

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We learned a lot and got to be outside – in July – without melting. (Hint: Go early before the sun gets too high and the blueberries are picked clean by everyone who went out early). Also, this is what poison ivy – in the South – looks like:

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For some reason, I had always thought the three leaves were connected – as in the same leaf with three prongs. Thankfully, we didn't encounter any on our skin, but just to be sure, the nice people at the farm had some lotion which protects you from the plant oils. Who knew?

And, it wasn't a total loss for Ronan. He enjoyed himself and there was a special treat at the farm. It required a mandatory stop – before and after picking the blueberries. An old tractor is always a required activity for my tractor-obsessed boy.

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We had fun and I enjoyed the alone time with my oldest. And, we'll definitely do it again next year. Maybe
twice. Once with the kids and once without. Hmm…why stop at two times? I love those blueberry muffins!

birthday wreath

Somewhere along our journey as parents, I decided that we should place more of an emphasis on our birthday celebrations. After all, now my time is measured based on my children's ages, milestones and achievements. However, it needed to be enjoyed in a way that would tread lightly on the earth, but still be something to get excited about. I started researching some old traditions – German, Irish, Polish, Italian, French, and Scottish. (That pretty much sums up our blended heritage). In doing so, I discovered the birthday wreath (ring) – an old German celebration.

Many of these rings were wooden and in a modern twist, each year a new figurine is added, either bought or handmade. It seems like a wonderful tradition, but not exactly what I was seeking for our family celebration. After much thought and discussions (thanks Heather), I settled on a wreath, wrapped in ribbon, with floral wire curled up to hold four photos. These photos should include the person throughout the previous year and should be chosen by all other members of the family (Ronan was quite excited about the photo choosing).

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As I am not skilled in the ways of wood-carving, I bought a pre-made wreath from the craft store and wrapped some ribbon. Since the potential for fire is quite high (what with all those paper photos strewn about), our candle is contained.

True to tradition, we get up early and place the photos and light the candle before the birthday person awakens. Then, the person blows out the candle, we eat breakfast and open presents.

At least, that's the way it's gone this year. We started with Ronan's birthday and it's gone through three of us, so I hope that it has stuck as a tradition. It's relatively easy to remember, gets the whole family involved, and is heavy on the memories and less on the stuff. I love it.

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(Poorly taken photo from Joe's birthday)

In addition to the birthday person's favorite dinner and birthday wreath pictures, a good cake always makes for a great birthday. So, for Joe's birthday – a mere four days after my own – we celebrated with another millet/orange marmalade cake and lots of singing. I don't think anyone said it better than Homer (Simpson, that is):

"Mmmm…cake."

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