Goodbye, Summer…Hello Fall, Entertaining Fry So Small

As a mom, my year isn’t a calendar year, but one that ends when lazy days of summer bid farewell. A new year starts with the return of fall. Even when my daughter grows up, I bet I’ll still feel that way. I still love the smell of new pencils, a fresh box of crayons, and the scent of new leather shoes! Back-to-school means a fresh start, more hectic schedules, and saying goodbye to long summer days of fun. Having grown up in a climate that is hot most of the time, I really appreciate the four seasons we have in Connecticut, savoring every minute of our short but beautiful summers. My daughter doesn’t attend camp, but has plenty to write about when her teacher asks “What did you do all summer?” Come sit a spell with me while I reminisce about what we did and share some fun ideas for entertaining young’uns.

I love technology. Occasionally, I’ll enjoy video games or watch a movie while knitting. But, I don’t want us being a couch potato family. On pretty days, we head outside! We love to watch our feathered friends at the bird feeder. I have a copy of the National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to Birds, and from the time my daughter was a tot she loved to look at the pictures and memorize the birds. When she was three, she was sitting with her dad on the porch. “What kind of bird is that, Daddy?” “A little grey bird, baby.”  With that, my daughter put her hands on her hips, rolled her eyes and said, “No Daddy! It’s a tufted titmouse!” My husband then asked me very sweetly not to teach her things he didn’t know! Precocious at three, she’s become a smart, nature-loving young lady.

We love to hit our town’s walking trails. I walk the dog, and she rides her scooter. At home, my daughter loves butterflies, and we’ve filled our yard with flowers and plants that attract the fairy-like creatures. My father sent her the Field Guide to Butterflies of North America, by Kenn Kaufman. We delight in seeing what kinds of butterflies grace us. She can tell you details, such as the difference between a male butterfly and a female, and what they like to eat. My daughter and her friends also love to “go frogging”, studying the different breeds of toads and frogs here. The rule she’s to follow is that she can’t harm them, and must let all creatures free before dusk.  In early summer, nothing’s more peaceful than watching the lightening bugs sparkle and shine.

This is a view of  one of the walking trails  in my hometown. 

My daughter took this picture of a butterfly on one of our walks. 

Every year, as summer is winding down, we love to make “Sunprints”. I first came across the special paper when our Farmers Market was giving the kits to residents, in an effort to get families outdoors. The kit consists of special photo-synthesis paper and an acrylic sheet. We take flowers and leaves from the yard, arranging them on the paper, placing them in the sun with the acrylic over them.

 



Afterwards, the paper is rinsed in water, and allowed to dry in the sun. The result is a beautiful “print” of whatever you have placed on the paper. We love trying flowers, leaves, and ferns. You can order the kits at  http://www.sunprints.org/.

The finished result!  Flowers are our favorite thing to use, but you can use almost anything at all!  Keys, shapes, cut-outs…whatever kids come up with. 

Another fun thing to do is press flowers. We pick the prettiest ones we can find, and together press them in my flower press. Mine was purchased in the 90’s, but is a simple contraption that would be easy to make. It’s simply two square pieces of wood with holes drilled in the corner of each. Four big bolts screw through the holes, held together with four big nuts.

When pressing flowers, the stem must be cut away as much as possible so that the flower can lay straight.  Arrange them in layers between the cardboard and the paper.

To press the flowers, we stack them between square sheets of cardboard and then paper, making sure none of the petals touch, then “sandwich” it between the boards with the bolts. Each week for six weeks, we turn the nuts tighter. We love to see how each flower will change once pressed and dried. We use them for crafts, such as for making bookmarks, pictures, or sometimes I’ll mail them along with cards and letters.

A view of the Connecticut beach we like to head to on really hot days.  We read, swim, picnic, study shells, and visit the free Nature Center.

Other things we do in summer is head to the beach for the day, garden, read, poke around the library, do crafts, or play softball or Frisbee together (the dog loves to join in, too). I’m proud of the fact my daughter doesn’t have to be “formally” entertained every moment, and is happy to ride her bike or play with her dolls. She’s so busy during the school year; summer is her time to just be a kid. This week we have houseguests: my brother-in-law and his wife and daughter, who’s eighteen months old. As we pulled out the highchair, it seemed just yesterday that it was part of the kitchen. Kids grow fast!

 Spend as much time as you can with your babies and grand babies, because, like summer, childhood is fleeting!

My daughter and her cousin.

Leave a comment 0 Comments

  1. Charles LaGroue says:

    Keep it up- each one is better then the last .  So much of what you write brings memories of when you were little running wild at the ranch.

    Love,
    Dad

    Thank you, Daddy! Love you! -Nicole

  2. meredith says:

    Hi Nicole! Thank you SO much for this post- I grew up in Ridgefield, Ct. and have such fond memories of the beautiful summers there. Your photo of the walking trail really reminded me of how beautiful my hometown is. Thanks for the walk down memory lane! Meredith

    Hi Meredith!  Thank you so much for reading.  I was just in Ridgefield recently, another lovely town.  I was happy to see Main Street hasn’t changed too much in the past years.  -Nicole

  3. Hi Nicole,
    Loved your artwork with the sunscreens. Another idea to try is to buy a blank canvas bag or apron and pick colorful flowers or ferns and arrange them on the canvas and cover with a piece of wax paper and then hit with a hammer and it transfers to the canvas. I think then you have to soak in salt water to set the colors so that they will not wash out. (It has been a long time since I made one) Just thought it might be something you and your daughter would enjoy doing.
    love reading your blogs

    Be Blessed
    Ms Scarlette

    Oh that sounds fun!  What a neat idea!  Thank you so much for sharing!  -Nicole

  4. kelly says:

    Thank you for great ideas! I can use them
    next summer when the grand kids come by. We are big bird and butterfly watchers here and the books are a great gift idea for them also when the holidays come by.

    Kelly, thank you for reading.  The books have proven to be something my whole family enjoys and my daughter does not grow out of.  Enjoy! – Nicole

  5. Betsy says:

    Hi Nicole,

    You’re right–even though my kids are grown, to me the new year begins in late August/early September. I don’t think that will ever change! Fall is such a good time for a new fresh start. Thanks for sharing this fun nature craft. Such pretty results!

    Betsy

    Thank you, Betsy!  -Nicole

  6. Denise says:

    Another great post. Thank you Nicole. We are just starting over with grand children and you have opened new ideas for educating them to their surroundings.You are definitely an inspiration.

    Thank you so much Denise!  Congratulations on your grandchildren!  -Nicole

  7. Theresa says:

    Love the Blog. Summer is a wonderful time with your children. Mine are grown now, still I hold those days close to my heart. Too many parents forget to take that time with their children. My son, now 30, can not wait to show me a new plant he is growing. My daughter has grown into 110% tree hugger. I smile and know there is a lot of my teaching and my father’s in me there. I could not of spent my life doing any thing to make me happier.

    Theresa, what a sweet, wonderful comment to the blog.  Thank you.  I feel the same way…my daughter is my greatest gift and nothing I’ve done or could do could make me as happy as being her mom.  Thank you so much for reading and commenting.  – Nicole

  8. Kirsten says:

    Love the blog Nicole! In the past 2 years I have really found my inner farm girl, and have loved sharing my farm girl-ness with my daughter Hannah(age 14). We’ve made jams together and just this summer sewed matching sun dresses, which turned out to be more like night gowns…We had fun learning to sew and laughing at the baggy results. Time with our young-ons is so precious and we should never pass up the chance to give to them the gifts that we have been given.Thanks for the listen and keep up the great work!

    Kirsten, thank you for sharing!  I bet those sundresses are adorable – and something your daughter will never forget.  Keep making those wonderful memories with your girl!  -Nicole

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>