Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sick :(

No, not me - Simeon. I hate when my kids are sick. Fortunately, it is not a common occurrence around her, so when it happens, it is more noticeable. Frankly, no one is really operating at 100% this week. B.J. and I are up to all hours trying to get things done (life is busy enough without the added fun of preparing for Christmas), Elianna has a lingering cough from an earlier cold, Janaya is a little 'off' somehow too. Simeon though, is the worst.

He has been running a fever since Tuesday nap time and it hasn't really changed. It is between 100.6 and 101.6 so nothing major, and we are very much of the opinion that the fever is the body's way of defending itself and as long as it doesn't get dangerously high, we leave it alone. I did take him to the doctor (which I SOOO don't usually do for a simple fever) since he had just been getting over a cold and still had a nasty cough when he got the fever. The doctor checked him out and said that his ears had some pus in them so she was going to treat him for an ear infection. Hmm. I'm not really certain that is the issue, though it might be. It just seems that to cause a fever, I would have expected a worse ear infection. I'm not convinced it isn't bronchitis based on how and what he is coughing. So, while I don't like antibiotics automatically for ear infections or bronchitis, I went with it.

He is miserable and not himself. He's not really eating which is VERY unusual for him..Okay, the constant holding isn't that unusual come to think of it. But, he is sleeping hours upon hours at nap time which is very unusual for him. He is also just cuddling with me all day long - also extremely unusual for my get-into-everything-I-possibly-can-in-two-seconds little boy. I have to admit that I am enjoying the cuddles. I am almost resenting the Christmas preparations because they are nagging at me with an ever-impending deadline, making it very hard to just sit with him. I am very glad to still be nursing because it is one of the few things he still has an appetite for right now and I know it will help him feel better faster. So, for now, I am trying to get as much done as possible while still meeting my little-guys 'needier' needs. Thank God for nursing and baby-wearing. This would have been an impossible week without both of those! I'm just praying for a speedy recovery, health for all of us, and a restful and restorative Christmas break.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I was going through pics from this year and came across this treasure. Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy

Dear Simeon,

I can't believe your first year has already come and gone. You came into this world in a 'no-nonsense' way and you have continued in your determination to conquer the world. Never willing to settle for being the third born, you have worked your way into our hearts and family in such a way that we could never imagine if you weren't here.

I have loved watching you grow and develop this year - even when it wasn't necessarily the pace I was expecting, but I am learning that your pace is all your own and it is just right for you. I love how you know now when you have done something exciting, and you cheer for yourself with your big, cheeky, grin that now has some teeth in it. Lately, you are starting to stand independently and when you decide you've had enough and sit down, you clap and cheer for yourself with the biggest smile. I love it! I love your laughter and I have to chuckle along when you find something funny.

As your mommy, you have a way of melting my heart that takes my breath away. I love that you have discovered that and have been freely dispensing hugs left and right. As much as on some days I am ready for you to be a bit more independent, I am remembering to cherish these moments. All too soon, you will be off and running and not quite as willing to cuddle up with your mama. So for now, I will continue to take advantage of the cuddle bug you are and enjoy every minute.

I pray that in this coming year that you would begin to know God more. I pray that I can live a life that shows the Gospel to you. I pray that we can begin to hide God's word in your heart. I can't wait to introduce you to the Savior. I pray for an extra measure of protection over my adventurous little climber, and I thank God that He is watching out for you.

Happy Birthday, my precious son. Your mama loves you so very much!

Just for contrast :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time to get OUT!

We had the wonderful chance to celebrate Thanksgiving this year up at Sarah's new house. For those of you who don't know, my sister, Sarah, and her husband have spent this year building a new house on the side of a mountain in North-Central PA. It is a beautiful, huge house and they were crazy enough to invite all 24+ people to not only have dinner, but stay over a night or two too!

On our last day there (Friday), we went hiking to see the property and in that hiking came across a really cool stream (one of two on the property). This one snaked and forked and rushed its way down the side of the mountain. Perfect. Especially for preschool children. Without hesitation or preparation, the girls started doing the same thing my sisters and I used to do in the woods - play in the stream. Give any kid a stream, a stick, and some leaves and watch their imaginations soar. The girls took turns clearing sections of stream, blocking others, racing leaves down the mountainside, and getting pretty darn wet :) They had a BLAST! and I was not about to stop them. So what if they got wet and muddy (okay, I admit I was a little bit annoyed at that, but I kept it inside - it's just clothes and shoes, I reminded myself). Kids don't get to play like that anymore. We are too busy with lessons, schedules, and to-do lists to just let kids play. Play is the work of childhood, someone once said and it is true. There was all kinds of learning going on in that play. There were gross motor skills being developed, problem solving, physics, science, etc. but that ultimately didn't matter. They were learning in the way that kids this age should playing.

Elianna hard at work

Grampy made a walking stick for Janaya

Simeon came along for the ride - he even napped a bit Like father, like son :)

Hey! It's MOMMY!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

You may or may not have noticed that I have been pretty quiet on my blog lately. No, I did not disappear nor have I given up blogging - in fact I have TONS of blog posts whirling around in my head at the moment. Unfortunately, they all take time to get them down. Suffice it to say that we are good, keeping busy, and preparing for the upcoming holidays.

For now, I will compile my status updates from my month of Thanksgiving. There is a fabulous old hymn "Count Your Blessings". I am richly blessed but all too often I focus on the negative aspects of my life instead of on all the blessing Christ has bestowed on me. For the month of November, I purposed to share something I was thankful for each day on Facebook. Below is the compilation to date. It has been a powerful reminder to "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS and again I say rejoice" Philippians 4:4. When I wrote down my 'thankful' status each day it was amazing how that simple act lifted my spirits and encouraged me - and there was always something to be thankful to God for - even on the rough days.


Nov 1st - I am thankful that my power is back on and it has stayed on :)
Nov 2nd - I am thankful to God for a husband who does so much around the house and with taking care of the kiddos :
Nov 3rd - I am
thankful to God for my husband. He is a wonderful husband and father. I am blessed to be married to my best friend :)
Nov 4th - I am thankful to God for a wonderful homeschooling community to encourage, support, and socialize with :)
Nov 5th - I am thankful to God for his rich provisions for my every need (and even wants sometimes too :)
Nov 6th - I am thankful to God for my family - I have the best family (both immediate and extended) in the world :)
Nov 7th - I am thankful to God for His grace and mercy in my life. I am thankful for how he gently calls me up to become more like Him but is patient with me in the process
Nov 8th - I am
thankful to God that I live in a country where I can vote and make my voice heard :)
Nov 9th - I am
thankful to God for Simeon. As crazy as things can be, he can melt my heart with one of his 'light-up-the-room' grins (even if he is the cause of the craziness :).
Nov 10th - I am thankful to God for the NJ Teacher's Convention because it means my husband gets to be home for two extra days and he is using that time to get LOTS done :)
Nov 11th - I am thankful to God for all of the men and women who have served and do serve our country to protect our freedoms and to help those in need. Thank you!
Nov 12th - I am thankful to God for Janaya. She is a bowl full of energy and laughter and you never know what she will say next. Her sweet spirit and determination are a blessing and I am excited to see what God has planned for her.
Nov 13th - I am thankful to God for Elianna. I love her sweet spirit and generosity. She LOVED filling her shoeboxes for the little kids to get to hear about Jesus and she was so thoughtful of what would be good for another little girl to have. I am so blessed to be her mom!
Nov 14th - I am thankful for my parents, Robert Stevens and Marti Smith Stevens. They have been and continue to be such and example to me in the way they live their lives with complete honesty and integrity. Their heart for the Lord and service to Him is inspiring. I am so blessed to call them mom and dad :)
Nov 15th - I am thankful to God for two little girls who, although they were cranky and argumentative, managed to wake me up in time to get the MOPS breakfast completed and in the oven in time :) He works in mysterious ways....
Nov 16th - I am so very thankful to God for Ms. Maryanne - Janaya's vision teacher. She is an amazing wealth of information and has become a dear friend and adviser in the past year and a half that we have had the pleasure of knowing her. I am so blessed to have her in our lives :)
Nov 17th - I am thankful to God for random blessings. B.J. came home last night with a bouquet for me and one for each of the girls. I love that man!
Nov 18th - I am thankful to God for my family. I love when we all get together :)
Nov 19th - I am thankful to God for His guidance and hand of blessing on my life

ps. I am also thankful today for Simeon and for the 11 months that we have had him as a part of our lives. What a treasured blessing :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


So, I would post pics to go with this post, but since we didn't have power, my dead battery camera had to spend the time on the shelf instead of recording our adventure.

Our weekend started as planned, we spent the morning cleaning the kids' rooms to try to make sense of the disaster up there. We stopped mid-way because we were planning to go to an anniversary party which ended up getting cancelled due to the surprise snow :) As disappointed as we were that the party wasn't going to happen, we were admittedly relieved to have the rest of the day to finish the gargantuan task before us. And we did. By dinnertime, the dressers had switched rooms, been emptied, sorted, and reorganized. So were the closets and all of the kid clothes we have in storage. The bins were sorted, thinned out, labeled, and organized in the crawl space and the beds were made with newly cleaned linens. A very productive day and B.J. and I were looking forward to getting the kids in bed and then addressing the disaster that the upstairs cleaning had managed to produce on the remainder of our living space.

B.J. was up putting the girls to bed and I was catching up on some email when sputter, sputter, flicker, pop. Power was gone. Dead. Nothing. "Not a problem" was my thought. We usually lose power for several hours at a time (someone hiccups under the transformer and we're out - as my neighbor puts it) so I figured we would have power back later that night. Nope. Fortunately, my ever-prepared husband knew right where the lanterns were and then I started lighting every candle we had. We called Peco and were informed that the "worst October snowstorm in PECO history" had caused our power outage. Way to set the bar high. I think it is the only snowstorm in October since PECO has been around. The worst part was the fact that we were informed that we should get power back on Sunday night. Deep breath. Okay, only one day. We can do this. Fortunately, B.J. had insisted we turn the heat on (though it was only October) that day so the house was warm and comfortable. We figured we could take advantage of the forced slower pace and relax. I was excited that my current project does not require electricity (I can knit by candle-light) and we settled in for a quiet evening. Very peaceful. We added extra blankets and went to bed. Sunday morning was cold but the house had only gone down to 60 degrees, so we headed off to church with our chargers in hand to power up our laptop and cell phone. At some point Sunday morning, we called PECO for an update - hoping to hear that their restoration date/time had moved closer. It hadn't. Instead, it was going the other way. We were informed that our service was estimated to be restored by 5pm on Monday. This camping out thing was losing its appeal.

Mom and Dad gave us their kerosene heater to use and while B.J. was out picking that up, I heated up the bathroom by giving the kiddos a nice hot bath since we all smelled like smoke from an afternoon birthday party for Joel in the park (such a Stevens' style birthday party :) Once we had the stove going, the chill quickly left the house and off to bed we all bundled once again.

Monday morning we awoke to a 55 degree house (very chilly by the way) and lit the kerosene heater again. It quickly brought the house back up in the 60s and now we just got to wait. I called PECO again to get a status update and was informed that it was now scheduled for noon on Tuesday. ENOUGH! I just about lost it. I enjoy camping out and the slower pace forced by no electricity, but the work was piling up. I had a dishwasher that had been full of dishes on Saturday with no way to clean it. I was getting concerned about the contents of my fridge and freezer (which survived thanks to being located in the unheated garage), and I knew that my work emails and such were piling up. I wanted to be able to reconnect with the outside world. I called B.J. at work to vent my frustration and then I called PECO again. And again. And again. B.J. called them multiple times as did our neighbors on either side. We were done. When a repair truck came up our block we stared him down like starving animals. Please, give us our power back!!! Nope, he was off to work on the apartments up the road who also didn't have power. That is one of the difficulties of being on a grid with only 16 people. We are always LAST.

We called and called and called until PECO finally heard us and restored our power on Monday afternoon - around 1. WOOHOO!! Power!! I hurried to start the heat, dishwasher, and laundry. B.J. came home for dinner and the girls were excited to let him know that we had power again (what a novelty it was now :).

Then B.J. asked if the lights looked dim. I looked and agreed that they did. He went to the garage and said that something was wrong. All of our electricity using items were spazzing. Blink, blink, blink, sputter, sputter, sputter. POP! Again. The collective groan issued from our block was audible. Again, we were on the phone with PECO to report the outage. When we called back for an estimate, we were told noon on Tuesday. I almost cried. As it turns out, the drain on the energy caused by 16 houses coming back online was too much for the top-of-the-line equipment PECO has used on our section and it caused a transformer to explode and spill oil everywhere. Which of course required an environmental impact team to have to come to clean up said mess before any restoration of power could begin. On went the kerosene heater again and we bundled up for another cold night. Around 5:30 in the morning, I was awakened by a glow of lights in our house. We were finally back online.

Power is still a novelty 2 days later. I am very appreciative of the electricity that runs my house. It has caused us to rethink our plans for the new heater/hot water heater combo because if the power went out with that formulation, that would mean that we would have had no hot water either. It was a memorable adventure, and for the most part, we enjoyed it. There were moments where we got frustrated. Especially with PECO, but for the most part, we handled it well. It just made me realize how fortunate I am to live in a place where power is taken for granted. In many parts of the world, no power or intermittent power is a way of life - even in the freezing cold. I am richly blessed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Too long again

It has once again been too long since I blogged. Life has been going at warp speed for about three weeks now. I am hoping this week slows down a bit, but the calendar did fill up a bit more today. It feels like I am juggling a hundred balls and all of them are one moment away from dropping. I am trying to keep everything going, but some days are not as successful. Fortunately, today was one where I made a lot of progress. While I would love to eventually have no 'to do' list to do (because it is all done), today allowed me to cross off a bunch.

What I accomplished today:

School, work, dishes, meals, 5 loads of laundry, scheduled a repair for B.J.'s car, scheduled a quote for our heater and hot water heater, played with my kids (they are loving their new swingset!), sorted the mail, wrote several emails, checked in with a few family members, cleared my computer desk, did some online shopping, helped get B.J.'s car to the shop, folded some laundry and had some fabulous helpers put it away, started sorting through the piles of last week's clean laundry to get it put away, and went to physical therapy. Not bad for a day's work :)

Next on the list: go clean the kitchen from dinner....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Parenting Traps

I came across this article on another blog and found it very convicting. B.J. and I had a very good conversation about some of the content last night. Whether you currently homeschool, think you might homeschool, or have no intention of homeschooling, I think the article will be eye-opening. I think the mistakes the author writes about are those that every parent struggles with and it is helpful to be aware of them so that we can go before the Throne of Grace and give these areas over to Christ. So, I encourage you to take a few minutes, ask God to show you areas of weakness and read the article below.

Friday, September 30, 2011


So, I don't have any pictures for this one, but I had to write about this morning. My kiddos and I spent the morning at a homeschool support group at WCUMC. I had heard about this group last year, but I never seemed to get going enough to make it. This year, I wanted to be more intentional about building a support base - both for me and for my kids. I want them to have a group of peers that are also homeschooled. I didn't do this because I was concerned about my daughter's 'socialization' (which seems to be the biggest problem everyone has with homeschooling. You know the "but what about socialization?" question). Honestly, I have never found that to be an issue as a formerly homeschooled person.

Anyway, the group consists of about 15 moms and between 40-50 kids. I loved it. Elianna loved it. Janaya loved it. Simeon? Not so sure. It is going to offer us a chance to have others teach supplemental lessons in such subjects as physical education, art, music, science, etc. There are at least 4 other languages spoken by group members - so a pretty nice opportunity there. There are people of various ethnic backgrounds - also important so that my kiddos learn to interact with people of all races. Most importantly - this is a Christian group that strongly supports the same biblical worldview we do so the learning that will go on will be taught through a biblical perspective.

I am so excited to get to know this group more. We have a diversity on all kinds of points from backgrounds to homeschooling approaches, but we are united in our desire to ensure a solid education and fulfill our God-given responsibility to bring our children up in the Lord. It promises to be a fun year!

Friday, September 23, 2011


I am. Simeon is. ALL.THE.TIME. At least that is how it seems lately. Every time I dare to put him down, I am guaranteed screaming protests. Now granted, he is teething, but this has been going on for months and it seems to be getting worse instead of better. I kept thinking that once he was mobile, he would get past this stage since he would be able to move himself wherever he wanted to go. It didn't help. Although now he is climbing... but I digress.

I have been pleading with God to give Simeon an attitude of contentment and to help him be able to be (just a tiny bit more) independent. I have been starting to get desperate - hoping for improvement but fearful that this might be just who he is (therefore, get used to it). I love him dearly, that has never been a question, but it is exhausting having a little one who is so demanding and cranky. I wouldn't mind if he was contented when I was holding him, but even that has seemed to never happen.

Then God pointed something out to me. I have fallen into the trap that I see so many other moms falling into. We label a child a 'troublemaker' or 'difficult' or 'brat' or 'cranky' or 'demanding' or 'problem child' but in doing so, we tend to create self-fulfilling prophecies. Kids tend to live up to what is expected from them. If we expect a child to be difficult, chances are that we will view our interactions with that child through the 'difficult' lens - thereby skewing our perceptions. The other part of this trap is that by labeling these negative behaviors, we are more tuned into those behaviors and that tends to give us a very negative outlook on our child and our role as moms in general.

Yup, classic splinter-log situation (check Mat.7:3ff). I admit that I have been a little judgmental in the past with moms who are constantly negative about their kids and here I have been doing the exact same thing. Ouch. Nothing like a God check.

So, I have decided to stop telling everyone how cranky and miserable my little guy is and instead focus on the fun stuff. Have I mentioned that my boy has a giggle coupled with a smile that can melt my heart? Have I told you that he looks at me and says "mama" with a big smile - knowing full well that he has just made my day? Have I told you what a daredevil he is? He climbs everything - very well, I might add. Have I told you that he is crawling now? Have I mentioned that he loves to play the piano? Or how about the way he lights up when I come into a room? Yup, I have a great little guy. He is sweet and adventurous and determined and he loves his mommy. Funny thing is, just that little switch in language and determination to stop focusing on the challenges has made for a better last couple of days. I'm not as frustrated with him - instead I am enjoying him for who he is - a treasure and a gift. I have a great kid! Lesson well learned.
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Saturday, September 17, 2011


Today I had the privilege of attending the graveside and memorial service for a very special baby boy - Silas David Taylor. He was a precious, perfect, and beautiful baby boy who brought joy to many during his short time here on earth - all spent inside his mommy's belly. I still remember that day in January when Melanie came by the house to tell us in person that she was finally expecting - something her heart has longed for for oh so long. As long as I have known Melanie, she has wanted to be a mom - just like I have wanted. Now was her chance, and I was so excited for her.

Fast forward 8 months, and I was at her shower. She was a beaming, expectant mother. So excited to meet and hold her little one. We went shopping for cloth diapers less than two weeks later - the first day she had an inkling that something might be wrong. Mere days later it was confirmed. Silas would not survive. I ached for her and prayed with faith - knowing that my God is all powerful and he could heal Silas if He chose to. My girls and I prayed each morning and I found myself constantly lifting Melanie's whole family before the Throne and asking that God would heal Silas.

August 27th, I got a phone call that Melanie was in labor (during a hurricane, no less). I prayed so much - for Melanie and Jerome, their families, and baby Silas. I prayed that God would perform a miracle. My prayer echoed the prayers of countless others who know and love the family and even those who had never met them. We prayed and believed and hoped. Sunday, August 28th, I got the text message that Silas was resting in Jesus' arms. I was crushed and I cried. I wondered why God hadn't chosen to heal Silas. Why had he allowed this family to be dealt this crushing blow? I knew that my God was the same and I never doubted His goodness, but I ached for their pain. I wondered why God had given Silas to them just to take him away so quickly.

Over the next two weeks, I did what I could to help - offering support, sending songs of encouragement, and most of all prayers. I was reminded of a plaque in my parents' house when I was growing up "Father, I may not understand you, but I trust you". I knew that to be true. It still hurt.

Today was the funeral. Melanie invited us to the graveside service and my heart broke again and again as I watched Melanie and Jerome and their family grieve this loss. It broke as I saw the tiny box with Silas' remains. It broke as I looked at my own three blessings and realized how much I take for granted.

The service afterwards was beautiful. There were photos and a music montage that brought everyone to tears. The pastor did a wonderful job of reminding us that Silas' life and death were not without meaning. God is using this little guy - even though we never officially got to meet him while he was alive. He reminded us that Silas has had more of an impact by his life than some have in 70 years of life. So true. He reminded us of how precious life is. And most of all, he reminded us that God is good. We can trust Him and rely on Him.

I am grieving this loss of such a precious little child. I am grieving for my friend. I am grieving for the pain they must walk through. I am inspired by their strength and faith in the midst of this storm. They know their Redeemer is the same yesterday, today, and forever and they are holding tight to Him. What a testimony of faith! By their testimony, I have been convicted of all that I take for granted, and for my complaining when things don't go the way I want them to.

There is nothing I can do to fix this. I hate that. It just is rotten and there is nothing that will make it hurt any less. But I know that my Redeemer lives. I trust that His purpose in Silas' life will be fulfilled. I know that there are those who probably think that she should have found out about Silas' condition earlier and terminated the pregnancy, but I disagree. Silas was a precious gift from the Lord. Even in the short time he had here, he has had an impact and is pointing others to the Lord which is our ultimate purpose here on this earth. His life is bringing glory to God and his parents are a testimony of God's faithfulness even in the storms of life.

So, I will continue to pray and grieve with my friend. I will also celebrate this little life with her and her husband. What a treasure they were given, though for a short time. To God be the glory. Thank you God for Silas and for the testimony of his life.

One of the worship songs at the service:

One of the songs during the slideshow (great testimony behind this song)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


First let me start this blog by letting you know that I am NOT pregnant. There, no confusion :)

There are few sounds that rival the sound of a baby's heartbeat while in utero. That sound brings promise, excitement, anticipation, and it has a unique way of working its way into our hearts before we have even 'officially' met. Such a powerful sound. It has the way of calming a new mother's fears. Holly and Joel shared that sound with us via text message today and it was such a special, unexpected treat. Thanks for sharing the joy, you guys :) I am so excited to get to finally meet your little one next year!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Scripture Memorization

My mom always did a great job of helping us tuck God's word away in our minds. We memorized Psalms 23, the Lord's Prayer, part of Psalms 119 and more. Mom knew that young children could memorize so much easier than adults could. That was such a foundational part of my growing up and I am so grateful for it.

When I went to Teen Missions Int'l ('92,'93, '94), I had to memorize more verses. The first year, I had to memorize 40 verses - almost one a day. In subsequent years, I memorized verses on either side of the original 40. To this day, there are situations that will arise and some of those verses pop right up in my mind. I think that is part of what the Scriptures talk about when they say to be "ready in season and out of season".

Kids are able to learn way more than adults give them credit for. They may not understand all of it, but the verses are there and ready when they need them. We have been memorizing all kinds of Proverbs and some select New Testament verses for close to 2 years now and I decided to take on a challenge. I read about a family that encourages their children to use Matthew 18 as a biblical model for conflict resolution, so I decided to join them. We started learning Mat.18 this summer and, while we haven't been as regular as I had planned, we have been doing it in bits and pieces off and on. I keep a copy of Mat.18 in the car so that when we are just sitting and waiting, we pull it out and work on our verses. I also review them with the girls at mealtimes when I am waiting for them to finish eating :) I strongly encourage you, if you have young children, to start memorizing with them. Hand motions help a lot, but they can learn faster than you probably can!

We are up to Mat. 18:14, but the last 4 verses are a bit more challenging and we just learned them this week, so Elianna wasn't ready to try them yet. So, here is Elianna with Mat. 18:1-10 and Janaya with verses 1-4 or so. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I admit it. I am now addicted to knitting. My soaker I made for Simeon turned out sooooooooo cute (if I do say so myself). I finished knitting it last week and I feel at a loss of what to do to relax in the evenings. I had no idea how much I had come to look forward to my evening knitting until I started feeling symptoms of withdrawal (restlessness, irritability, etc.) without it. So, like any good addict, I started searching for a new source/supplier and I hit the motherload. I just spent the last hour + on browsing all kinds of knitting ideas. Bolstered by my success on the soaker pattern, I am ready to tackle another new challenge. I have about 20 projects in my favorites page now and the next step is to figure out which one to start with. Oh yeah, and then I get to go shopping for new yarn and needles...... I can't wait to get started! My evening date with my knitting needles will soon return (probably coupled with a bit of a drought in blogging...though I'll try to be more disciplined this time around).

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

A quick adventure

A week or so ago, B.J. and I decided to have one more summer adventure. We had been wanting to go to the Family Cow farm for their tour (it's where we buy our raw milk from...YUM) and then we were discussing what else we wanted to do. Originally, we were thinking of making it a few day get away with a stop in Lancaster overnight too, but with B.J.'s new position and some other scheduling issues, we ended up deciding on an overnight trip only.

This was all complicated by the fact that we lost power on Sunday for 12 hours, so I couldn't get the laundry done to pack! We ended up turning on all the lights so that when the power came back on we would wake up and get stuff going. So at midnight, we started the laundry and then again at 2am I switched things over. We ended up getting out by 10:30 or so (I was impressed :) (Upon our return, we realized that we had forgotten to check everything before we left and found our middle cat, Chipper, had spent the overnight locked in our bedroom with the obvious outcome of that, but I digress.)

We drove out to Lancaster, had lunch at a really cute diner and then went to the historic Strasburg Railroad where Janaya and Simeon got to go on their first ever train ride and Elianna got to experience a historic train ride as opposed to a Septa one. We all had a wonderful time.

Mommy and Simeon
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Father and Son
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Elianna loving train ride
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Janaya on the train
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Family Pics
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And we played a bit:
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We drove the rest of the way to Chambersburg late that afternoon, checked into our hotel (the highlight of the trip for the girls), ate dinner  
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and then - though well past bedtime, couldn't resist a nighttime dip in the pool. It was chilly out, but the girls and Simeon didn't mind in the least. We were saving a hot bath to thaw out afterwards :) 
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Tuesday morning we were up bright and early for an amazing (*free!) hotel breakfast (complete with spilled OJ) and then off to the farm tour. The Family Cow is the place we have been getting raw milk from since December. I love their milk and credit our really good health this past winter to drinking it. Expensive? Yes, but so worth it! They are believers too. We decided we wanted to visit the tour when one morning I asked Elianna where milk came from and she replied "Halo Farm". Time for some education.

The tour started off with a visit to maternity ward.  
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This was where the cows have a two month paid vacation, as Edwin put it. Then we went on to visit the calves. There, we got to feed them giant bottles of milk (talk about hard to bottle feed - they were determined to tug the bottle right out of our hands) and let them suck on our fingers. Janaya was especially taken with that part.

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Then we were back on the wagon to visit the baby chicks and the grown chickens.

Elianna got to hold one of the baby chicks and she loved it and both girls got to collect an egg.
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Finally, we continued our ride out to where the cows were at pasture. It was so fun. The Jerseys were so friendly and curious and all came over toward us as if they were coming to meet us.  
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Along the way, Edwin (the farmer) explained how and why they do what they do with pasturing and caring for the animals. When we got to the end of the tour, we hung around to watch the actual milking. The girls were fascinated with how it all worked, but they especially loved playing with the farm kittens that were nearby and pretty friendly. It was the cleanest farm I have ever visited - there was really no manure smell anywhere and I was impressed. I have been to other dairy farms and this one was by far the cleanest and nicest.

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Did I mention how PATIENT these kittens were? :)

Back in the van, we visited a local creamery for lunch (and apparently missed an earthquake) and then headed home. All in all, it was a wonderful final family adventure for the summer. On the way home, I asked what their favorite part of our adventure was. Answer? The hotel. B.J. commented that next time we should drive down Rt. 13 and stay in a hotel five minutes from home. Second favorite? The farm and the kittens. I asked Elianna where milk came from and she responded with "cows". Success :)