Category Archives: The Great Outdoors

Acorn PSA

Bugs.
Overall I really like bugs. The girls are fascinated by them and they provide a lot of fun and interesting toddler discussions.
We love the outdoors. We spend most our days in the fresh air. It encourages so much curiosity and imagination. Watching the girls experiment, explore and create is motivating as a parent.

The other day Sarah and I went outside to collect some sticks. We were going to do some Christmas projects, and I love to use natural (and free!) elements.

After we made a few ornaments Sarah was still wanting to make more things. We ventured back outside and collected a bucket of acorns.
We have a yard full of oak trees, so the acorns are overflowing.

We gathered all our goods and went inside where Sarah made rows and streets glueing acorns on paper.

Then today something happened.
The acorns sat in a bucket last night, awaiting the next project. Elanor found it and dumped it into a Christmas bag she found. Then back into the bucket (she loves dumping and filling things). At one point I heard her drop all the bucket contents on the floor so I ventured into the kitchen where I began singing our “clean up song”. While I was picking up the acorns I saw something yellow’ish. I stopped, looked again and saw several small off-color things. They were larva. Somewhere between 5-10 little tiny crawly larva. 1 was moving and then the rest slowly started “waking up” and moving. I immediately stopped Elanor from helping clean up and went to grab my dust pan. Actually that’s not true, I grabbed my camera and THEN the dust pan. Sarah and Elanor both wanted to see the crawly subjects, which I made them stand a good distance away for.

I took a few pictures after cleaning up all the acorns and sticks, trying to figure out what the things were.
I swept them up and threw them away and then Stephen notified me he found another pile of deserted acorns with tiny things laying around.
I have since swept and vacuumed several times.
I keep getting that gross itchy scratchy feeling on my skin.

So consider this a friendly Public Service Announcement, from my home to yours – don’t trust the acorns.
And if you really want some, for crafts, decorating or what not, save yourself the time (and want-to-puke-in-mouth feeling) and buy a bag from a friendly acorn-safe craft store.

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Our original craft area setup. Pre-larva invasion.

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Passing By

I can hardly believe it is November. It feels like just a few weeks ago it was my niece Addison’s 1st birthday, and then people were talking about how they can’t wait for fall because of the pumpkin spice latte craze, and now it’s less than 3 weeks until thanksgiving!

Because of this quick season changing space-time continuum, we have been spending a lot of time outside, soaking in all this amazing humid-free weather.
It doesn’t happen often on the gulf coast, so we’ve learned to take it all in while we can.

I recently had the joy of receiving my grandmas porch furniture. I have so many sweet memories sitting on these pieces, and to now have them at my own home, getting used with my own children, is such a wonderful treat.

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I really love the holiday season, but I’m not ready to give up this great weather. Although, I suppose it doesn’t normally get cold until January anyways :)

Sweet Seasons

Happy weekend, all. While I’m sitting outside on the front porch watching the girls play I figured I’d make a little update while my hands are somewhat free.

The other week my sister came up with a fun plan for all of us to go visit one of the local pumpkin patch farms.

When I saw that it was $8 a person I was kinda not looking forward to it, but when we arrived I understood and was totally on board.
These people make bank, and they deserve every penny because this place is a kid haven.

Here are some pictures my sister took while we were there (thank you for snapping these, Ri!)

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The girls had a blast. Literally played until they were about to drop.

A bonus on top of it all, I had a prospective client going with her family so we were able to meet there. I got a new home birth mom on the schedule and that truly made my morning complete!

He-Ha

We have a street down the road that I’ve always enjoyed walking. A neighbor (and his extended family) have a pasture that keeps getting new animals. When we moved here it was cows. Next they added some horses, then some goats, and most recently, donkeys.

I’m an occasional runner (in training). I practically have the couch to 5k program memorized. Or at least the first 3-4 weeks of it, I never seem to finish. One of my favorite strips to run is the area with these pastures. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made was our jogging stroller. It’s saved my sanity on probably 100′s of occasions. The girls learned to moo, neigh, baaaaa, and he-ha pretty early in life because we practice each time we go out. It’s a fun addition to our days.
I now keep extra carrots aside to take with us because we’ve learned cows don’t like gold fish, animal crackers, or cranberries. Apples and carrots though, big fans :)

I met the owner a few years ago when Sarah was a baby and we were out walking. He told me they loved the things mentioned above and sugar cubes. I don’t carry around sugar cubes, so we stick with the others. We’ve also learned that if your kid is eating a snack while standing at the fence, goats and cows will lick goldfish right of their hands and then look at you disapprovingly bc it isn’t what they wanted. Silly animals.

Here are a few photos from our visits to our four legged neighbors.

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and going way back to the start…

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Dirt and Rainboots

When I started this photography adventure I honestly had no idea if it would go anywhere. I’m not a self-marketer and a pretty big introvert, so putting myself out there was and is not natural to me. Far from natural, really. I will say that being an associate pastors wife has made that a bit easier on me, I have had some major crash courses in social skills in the past 2-3 years.

All that to say, things are going well. I am on call right now for a sweet momma that is due anytime in the next 2 weeks. I am on a constant learning curve with the business side of things, but thankfully I have had a few friends take me under their wings and it has helped drastically with goal setting and marketing.

With all of that going on I have had to learn to become a night owl in order to get job related work done. If you knew me in years past, I have always been an early bird. In high school I went to bed at 9, and earlier in the winter. The sun setting and moon rising were like my natural clock. Not anymore though. That changed a bit when we had kiddos, but has changed even more since starting this new venture. It’s been like body training, only not the workout kind that gives you muscle tone, but more of the late night snacking and sitting kind… thankfully I chase kids around during the day so exercise exists whether I want it to or not.

Speaking of chasing kids around, these girls of ours are growing at a rapid pace! They are both so much fun.

Sarah has become such a little girl, loving art projects, playing in dress up clothes, and anything that has to do with cooking and baking. Elanor is talking up a storm, learning new words all the time. She is my independent player, loving to just do her own thing (minus when she’s teething, then she reaches human-leech status). I am so glad that I get to be their mom. Stephen’s new job has made for a lot of changes, and thankfully one of those is that he gets to see them a bit more. With him traveling he does a lot of his computer/office work in the morning, so he gets to have time with them before he leaves for the day. It’s so nice seeing them have morning-play time rather than just before bed time and post-work Stephen during dinner/bath rush time. They all love it, and it’s a joy for me to see and watch their relationships grow.

Okay, Elanor is waking up from her nap so that is the end of computer time.

A photo of each before I sign off…

Pietruszewski Family

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A Reappearance

Aaaaaand, I’m back! Did you like that trick? I disappeared for a while there. It seems the kids, a new job, church trips, and just me being crazy tired really played a big part in the whole ‘neglect the website’ stint there.

We have really been up to a lot this summer. Oh no, pause – Elanor woke up… she must know I’m trying to do web work. Okay, I think she fell back asleep, at least I hope she did because it’s 12:07am and this mom is hoping her kids choose to sleep in their own room tonight. Yep, we have reached the point of kids crawling into our bed. It was cute at first. The kicks into the back, pillow hogging and sheet stealing has really started to wear off the cuteness effect for me. Although the hand holding and morning cuddles sure are precious.

Now for a few photos. Here is some of our June and July of 2014.

Strawberry picking

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Kid Birthday parties, with the hubbs
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Blueberry Picking while baby wearing

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BOTH girls attended Mothers Day Out in July

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Sunday morning music practice

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An ER visit with Elanor
(she turned out to be fine, just scared her parents)

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Stephen and I BOTH attended Centrifuge Youth Camp

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Elevator rides with a text messaging unicorn (at camp)

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“What I want to be when I grow up” theme night
we have a good group of dreamers!

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If you didn’t know, I am scared of heights & I slept on a top bunk – which was a big deal for me

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Having fun at ISR swim lessons

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The girls visiting us at Univ of Mobile during camp

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Skateboarding in the halls

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Cousin kisses

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The hubs
[I posted this because I think he's handsome]

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Wahoos Baseball Game with the Youth Group

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Little Elanor smiling for the camera while at babysitter Melissa’s house

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Grocery shopping with BOTH kids
(it doesn’t happen often)

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We switched the girls room and I put their mattresses on the floor the first night
Since then Sarah pushed them together and now they sleep right next to one another

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Elanor being silly

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Feeding ducks at the pond and going to the park

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Swinging and relaxing

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Sarah wanted in the baby swing bc Elanor and Addison were in them

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Visiting Papaw and Nana

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Facetime with Daddy while he was on a business trip

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Giving Barney some hugs

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“Kitties”

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Cousin snack break

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There’s a few visuals of what we have been up to in the Ringl family. It’s been a fun and busy summer, and today I decided I am looking forward to some cooler weather and exciting holidays!

Thank you, Mrs. Debra, for reminding me I needed to update! My computer time has been overly consumed with editing photos, so it’s nice to take a break and look at pictures of my own kiddos and family.

Saturday Fun

This past Saturday we went out to a blueberry festival. It was a last minute decision while we were sitting having breakfast that morning and I’m so glad we went.

The girls had a blast! I intended to pick berries while we were there, but Sarah was pretty distracted by the horse rides, bounce house and blow up slide…

We plan on picking some blueberries this week with friends, so that’ll make up for it. Especially since the 1lb we did buy while there was eaten before the day was over.

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Sarah was quiet the whole time, but LOVED getting to actually ride a horse for the first time. So much so that that is what we did last night, only I was the horse and now my knees will probably be beautifully bruised from all our fun.

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Handsome man holding a cute little girl

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That evening we went to our friend and neighbors house for dinner and the girls played until they were ready to drop. So much so, that Sarah did when we got home…

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It was a really great weekend. I love when we get to go out and do things together as a family, especially since I get a little cabin-feverish during the week sometimes. I plan on dragging Stephen to the beach sometime soon so we can have a fun time getting the car all covered in sand and vacuuming the floor mats for eternity.

Life Lately

Just a few photos to show what we’ve been up to lately.

Our little Elanor. She pulls off a good serious face considering she’s such a silly goofball.

 

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Melt.My.Heart

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Some nearby water fun

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Sarah has learned how water guns work. She thinks they’re the best thing ever.

It’s getting extra hot and humid outside, so most our visits involve some water play. We have also started ISR swim classes, so that’s been busying our schedule a bit. Sarah has done a great job at adapting to the water. She went from not wanting her face wet (ever!) to full on jumping in the pool to her swim teacher. She did the same thing at my parents house recently and was jumping to Stephen from the side of the pool. I love seeing her trust grow as she becomes more brave. Elanor is a different story, haha. She has yet to grow comfortable, but we are getting there.

We are looking forward to a visit to Lake Martin in July. We haven’t been in 2 years, which seems absolutely crazy when I write that down, but it’s true. It’s gonna be a cousin & baby-meet-baby fest! We can’t wait.

Summer is in full swing. VBS is going strong. Youth trips are happening. And our girls are growing crazy fast. My photography shindig has been going well. The startup has been taking a lot of time, but I think that’s good prep for what’s to come.

Hope everyone’s June is going wonderfully. Ours keeps getting more fun!

Our Little Chicks

It’s funny how much having children can change a person. How rewarding it is to see the fruits of the hard work we put in. From the simple things like teaching manners, “please” and “thank you”, watching their individual personalities bloom from the very foundation that we lay before them. Learning and seeing how they observe everything we do. When they start to question and critique us. Want to know reasoning behind actions. The “why” behind it all. Knowing this truth has made me want to be a better person.

There isn’t an age where we begin to instill the desire for hard work into children. From the moment they enter our world they are watching our every move.

Becoming a parents means taking on new roles. One of those responsibilities is being an educator. There’s no better way to do that than letting them see us live our words. Teaching by example.

One of the ways I’ve been doing this recently is by working our home. The very surroundings that we live in and sleep around. I often joke about wanting to have a green thumb. To be able to grow things. Whether it be flowers to smell or herbs to consume. To view the fruits, or in this case vegetation, of hard labor. I want my children to understand this use and grow their desire. If one day they take it on for themselves, I will be overjoyed. Until they are at the age where they can decide whether they do or don’t enjoy working with their hands, I am going to teach them how it’s good and the many ways they can do so. Show them that they can choose to create something big from almost nothing. Use and learn skills and crafts to better our lives and the lives of those around us. I feel it’s important to know that it costs time and effort to reap rewards. This is something that bleeds over into all elements of our lives. From relationships and jobs to hobbies and schooling. We don’t always get back physical rewards when we put in hard work, but it grows us and teaches us. It shows us the ways to do things and when/how to alter methods when we see what does or doesn’t work.

I am a hands-on learner. Always have been. That fact made learning in school pretty interesting over the years. I could read a textbook ten times over and not understand a concept, but if you show me how x + y = z on paper it clicks. I don’t yet know how my children best learn, so until then I will instruct them in the manner that I know best.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love letting them get dirty. Encouraging them to play in the mud and dirt. Painting with our fingers and letting them taste playdoh to find out for themselves that I’m not joking, it truly isn’t worth eating. I don’t know. All I am sure about is that I have a lot of joy watching my children get excited about learning. My heart is constantly growing in new ways. Even when I see them fail. Letting them know it’s okay to not always win or have the success they were expecting. To see when they need encouragement and an extra push to try again. Or in some cases, take a break and move on to new things. Trying to find the balance that works for each of us.

Since getting a swingset in our backyard we play outside even more than before. We will start out in the front yard, watering our plants and riding tricycles and cozy coupes, to venturing into the jungle of our back terrain. A space that has a lot of possibilities. Most currently they involve digging, playing with the hose, learning how to swing, finding lizards, and watching mommy try to kill all the ants. A lot of activities that keep us busy.

I mention to Stephen, more often than he likes, how fun it would be to have some chickens. To raise the girls with some backyard “friends”. Of course I mean ones that we know are there. I’m not counting the families of squirrels, rabbits, birds and who knows what else we have on our property.

We are getting a few trees removed soon and I’ve been slowly trimming back some of the overgrowth that’s accumulated over the past few years. More land, more to mow?! Ooorrrr, more land, more space! And where there is space there’s opportunity!

Recently we got to take a visit to my friend Rene’s house. They live on a nice sized property about 10 miles from us and have some fun animals that the girls don’t get to regularly see. When I found out that there were chickens, goats, pigs and some baby chicks in that mix, I knew we had to make a visit. My friend Amanda picked us up one morning and we headed over to have some fun hangout time. Conversation for the mom’s, outdoor adventure for the kiddos. Always a great plan in my book.

After some phone map navigation we found our destination and set the kids free to investigate the open space. Another great thing about living out in the country. That’s definitely a statement I never saw myself making when I was younger. It’s amazing how much time and age changes us.

I’m pretty sure I was just as excited, if not more, about seeing, petting and feeding the animals.

 

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Elanor & Jacob getting some proper chicken introductions!

I think it’s time to rent a goat. I’m sure it would chow down all our weed-trees a lot faster than I’m getting to them. Baby steps. One week we can try a goat and then we can work our way up to a hen or two. Maybe I should get the girls to draw pictures of baby chicks and give them to their dad. That worked for me and a kitten when I was a kid.

 

First Sight

A few weekends ago we celebrated Sarah’s 3rd birthday. We had a fun get together at our house with family over. It was on a Sunday, so after church we picked up some pizza’s and made a few pitchers of lemonade. I made peanut butter cookies the evening before, Sarah’s favorite, and to entertain the kiddos I busted out the bubble machine. It was the perfect way to celebrate.

While we were all outside watching the kids my mom had an idea. One of our neighbors recently offered us a swingset they no longer used, but it was wood and it was heavy. There was no way Stephen and I were moving that thing. Given we had all our local family over, which included 6 adult men, mom thought to see if we could get the swing set moved. They all walked over and next thing we knew they were coming back across the street carrying a large wooden frame with swings and a slide.

When Sarah turned around and saw her daddy, grandpas, and uncles carrying a SLIDE she flipped. What’s funny is that it happened the day we were celebrating her birthday, so I think she thought it was the ultimate present, when really it wasn’t a gift from any of us, just a friendly donation from some sweet neighbors.

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“It’s a SLIIIIIDE!”

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As you can imagine, if the sun is out the girls are wanting outside on their new swingset. Elanor now loves to slide, and I’m pretty sure Sarah asks me to push her on the swing 875 thousand times a day.

It was a great birthday party followed by a wonderful night. An evening spent enjoying our two daughters in the backyard listening to them laugh and squeal over the joy of a swing and a slide. It’s always the simple things. The experiences that are everlasting in our minds. Moments that, as parents, are quick, temporary, and forever our own to cherish.