Monday, December 3, 2012

Burkina Bound...

Wow!  It's been quite a while since a new blog post...approximately 2 months.  I never was very good at this whole blogging thing. And for a while I was in contemplative I make this blog more "serious" in the sense of pouring lots of hard work into it to make it a more frequently read blog, have giveaways, etc or do I just write about life as it happens so I have a record of it for Bugaboo and Doodle and for me?  I'm leaning towards the second.  However, we have a pretty exciting announcement over here.

For a while now, (about 2 years), Jarrod and I have contemplated taking a trip overseas to serve alongside missionaries we know living and serving in Africa.  When this possibility was first discussed we were planning on visiting friends in Kenya.  However, they have now come home and we still felt that we were being led by God to go somewhere.  Then a friend who I met 9 years ago when we served together in Zambia moved with her husband and 3 children to serve in Burkina Faso, West Africa.  In the past year we have also gone through David Platts' (author of Radical) study on the Book of James and really felt we wanted to make an eternal impact on the kingdom.  So I e-mailed Annie to see if they would welcome visitors (they've only been in Burkina for 5 months).  My e-mail was met with a resounding "Yes, we'd LOVE to have you!" And so the process began.  Fast forward 2 months and we have received final approval from Matthew and Annie's sending agency (we are now enrolled with them, as well, as short-termers) and will be buying plane tickets this week to head to Burkina Faso. 

I'm sure you (all 3.2 of you who read this blog) have questions, but to answer the biggest question in your minds- Yes, we're all going...all 4 of us.  Yes we're taking Bugaboo and Doodle who will be alomst 3 and almost 1 at the time of the trip.  Yes, we might be about half crazy, but we feel that we're to go as a family.  Plus Annie's youngest 2 are just a few months older than Bug and Doodle.  So that's our news...exciting, exhilerating and just a tad bit scary...okay, maybe more than a tad.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Foodie Friday- Baked Potato Soup

I love a good, hearty soup on a crisp fall day and this potato soup stands up to my every desire in a fall soup!  It appears frequently in our home from now until March.  We originally got this recipe from a friend of the family, but I've made some adaptations over the last year or so to make it so much better!
Baked Potato Soup

5-6 lg baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 green onions chopped
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 chicken bouillon cubes
8 oz sour cream

Wash potatoes and bake in 400 oven until done (can cook them in the microwave if that's easier). Cool and cut into 1/2" cubes. Melt butter over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add mild and cook over medium heat. Stir until mixture is thick and bubbly. Add potato cubes, salt, pepper, onion, bacon, cheese and chicken base. Cook until well heated. Stir in sour cream.

My adaptations:
We usually add about 3/4 of a bottle of beer (or as Jarrod says, 1 bottle of beer minus 3 worries, I leave him the 3 sips after I use what I need) before adding the sour cream.  This gives it a good depth of flavor and it's not as thick. I have found that I really don't measure out the cheese, but I usually use at least 2-3 cups.  I find sharp (or extra sharp) cheddars (white or yellow) fit the flavor profiles the best.  The bite of the extra sharp cheddar pairs nicely with the beer, usually a Yuengling or a Pale Ale.  I usually serve this with a few fresh cut chives, some crumbled bacon, and a dollop of sour cream on top.
One of my favorite qualities of this soup is that it tastes even better when it's reheated.  The only downfall is that the green onions are a little wilty.  Solution?  Don't mix them into the soup, just sprinkle some on top before you serve:)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eating Humble Pie....

...or the one where Mommy got a speeding ticket...
I debated even writing this post, but I decided it was good for me and that some day Bug and Doodle will laugh about it and I might even chuckle a little myself. 

Today started off as a normal day- story time at one of the local orchards, stop at Wal-Mart for some baby shower decorations, heading to one of the local parks...and then time seemed to stand still.  I was driving one of the roads that I used to drive almost daily when teaching, a road I grew up driving that isn't far from my parents' home.  I'm sure I knew the speed limit was 35, but I wasn't paying a bit of attention to the speed limit.  I was kind of in my own little world, listening to music on the radio, talking to Bug and Doodle about going to the park and the nature center, and couldn't begin to tell you what speed I was driving.  I wasn't driving recklessly, mind you, but apparently I wasn't driving 35 mph either. 

Then it happened.  That moment where you see flashing red and blue lights behind you, you pull over hoping that Mr. State Trooper has a bigger emergency to get to and will fly by you, and then the lights pull over onto the non-existent shoulder right behind you, the Lead-Footed Mama who wasn't going 35 mph in a 35 mph zone.  You stop the car, pull out your license and registration, and unbuckle your seat belt because you've parked your car.  Then you realize you've unbuckled your seatbelt, you don't want to get an additional fine for driving without it on, and quickly rebuckle before Mr. State Trooper appears at your window.  Yep, that pretty much sums up 10:45-10:52 this morning.  Bug certainly didn't get what was going on and I'm sure had many questions running through her head that fortunately she didn't verbalize.  I already wanted to sink into the floor boards because not only was I about to get a ticket (and a whopping fine), but it had happened with my kids in the car (yes, there were tears).  Then the part that caused me to eat a BIG slice of pie (humble pie that is)..."Mommy, I sorry," chimed Bug from the backseat.  All of a sudden it clicked in my mind that Bug thought it was her fault that we had to sit still on the side of the road and wait for Mr. State Trooper to return to Mama's car.  "Bug, this isn't your fault.  This is Mommy's fault.  Mommy was disobedient and broke a rule."  Wow, that's hard to swallow, but hopefully we both learned a lesson. 

 Next time it's time for pie, I'd prefer pumpkin instead of humble...or could you at least add a nice big scoop of ice cream on top of my  humble pie?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Tribute to the Pink Ribbon

Pink can find them just about anywhere you look for them during the month of October from jewelry to bagels at Panera, from clothing to purses.  And while I think the pink ribbon is sometimes over-commercialized, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Pink Ribbon are very close to my heart.

You see, when I was 6 years old, I lost my grandmother to breast cancer.  She was my dad's mom and one of my best friends.  I remember dancing in her living room to the Lawrence Welk show, having animal crackers and apple juice while sitting on a special wicker chair, and saying "Goodnight, John Boy" as I watched The Waltons with her.  She was a very special, godly woman who I was blessed to have known for 6 short years. Every day I wish that she could meet my husband and cuddle Bug and Doodle because I know she would love them just as much as I do!

Because there is a history of breast cancer in my family, I'm always very aware of new lumps and bumps (even if I don't perform self checks as often as I should).  So when I found a new lump about a month before my wedding, saying I freaked out a little is probably an understatement.  It was my second year of teaching and I remember sitting in my portable classroom and calling my doctor's office immediately to let them know I'd found a lump and wanted an immediate appointment.  I remember being so frustrated that the receptionist wasn't nearly as alarmed by this as I was and calmly said, "So when would you like to come in for an appointment?"  An appointment was made for later in the week and though my doctor was fairly certain everything was fine, she sent me to an excellent specialist at GBMC, one of Baltimore's finest medical facilities.  Due to my age, they decided to perform an ultrasound instead of a mammogram.  I guess at 24, my breasts were considered "too dense" to clearly show them what they needed to see.  Jarrod took off work to go with me and I remember being so worried that he wouldn't want to marry  me if it turned out to be breast cancer (remember, our wedding was only 4 weeks away).  All of the "what ifs" ran through my mind.  The tech performed the ultrasound and then sent me over to the specialist.  I was so glad I had come to him because he decided the tech hadn't done a good enough job and he redid the ultrasound. 

Thankfully, in my case it turned out just to be a bump, nothing significant, no cancer, not even a benign cyst that they thought should be removed.  I know not everyone's cases turns out like this.  I know millions of women who put up a brave fight every day and I am among millions who hope a cure will be found by the time my daughters are reaching maturity.  I know I am one of the blessed and fortunate ones, but I am also that much more aware of the need for regular self-exams, etc. So in the month of October, I am more likely to buy  cherry/white chocolate "pink ribbon" bagels at Panera or support the Susan G. Komen foundation in loving memory of my grandmother and in honor of all of those women bravely fighting for their lives.  And when you see a pink ribbon this month, remember all of the wives, mothers, daughters that have lost their fight...and pray that your wife, mother, or daughter won't have to fight that same fight.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Loving the Little Years

 A few months ago a friend recommended that I read Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic (I highly recommend can order it here).  The basic premise of the book is that while the years with  young children in the house are sure to bring their difficulties, challenges, and days when you just want to scream (or simply go to the bathroom by yourself), the years are short.  As a mother to five children under kindergarten age, including a set of twins, (you can read her contributions over at Femina Girls Blog), I figured she must have some words of wisdom for little old me- mom of only 2.

As I read the book, I was continually struck with the same theme over and over again.  Then, when reading another friend's blog, she also mentioned the same thing- while the days can be very, very long, the years pass quickly and you wonder where they've gone.  You know the days I'm talking about- the days when the baby was up several times in the middle of the night teething and as soon as you fall back asleep, the toddler wakes up and is raring and ready to go for the day!  The days when the baby is attached to you and can't be put down without screaming in protest and your toddler seems to have un potty trained themselves.  The days when your husband comes home and wonders what you've done all day (but hopefully never asks!) and looking at your house, you wonder the same thing ,but are sure you've done something!  But even taking all those days into consideration, the years are short.  I look at Bug and Doodle and wonder where the time has gone!  Wasn't it just yesterday that Bug was a baby, resisting nap time, taking her first steps, saying her first words?  Wasn't it just yesterday that I stared into Doodle's eyes for the first time, amazed that the Lord had blessed us with another little girl?

Yes, the days by themselves can be so very long, but in the big picture, the years go by quickly!

P.S. This is just as much a reminder post to myself as it is to anyone else.

Monday, September 17, 2012

For the Love of Carbs

I love carbs...pasta, bread, name it, I enjoy it!  I've always enjoyed eating a slice of good bread (though I'm not a big sandwich eater) and so when I stumbled upon a local place (you can read about my love for all things local back here)  baking naturally leavened bread (no yeast) in a brick oven, I needed to find out more.  I read the blog of a friend of a friend and her blog directed me to McGrath's Brick Oven Bakehouse.

Located in Mechanicsburg (so only about 30 minutes from my house), McGrath's is in the beginning stages of opening a wood-fired brick oven bakery in South Central Pennsylvania.  Currently, they're using a brick oven on their patio until all of the red tape gets worked out, but their naturally leavened bread (no yeast, also known as sourdough) is DELICIOUS!  I get their e-mails every week, decide if I like the bread(s) they're offering that week, place my order via e-mail (does it get any easier, people?) by Thursday, and pick up the bread on Friday evening.  This was the first week I was able to make it work to get there to pick up bread and let me tell you how wonderful it was!  I was handed my bread in paper bags and they were still warm to the touch!  I deeply inhaled the scent of the fresh 7-grain bread, made with as many local grains as they can get their hands on.  I thoroughly enjoyed serving this preservative-free, sugar-free bread to my family and they couldn't get enough of it either!  Can't wait to see what breads are offered this week, but I'm pretty sure a stop at McGrath's (currently their garage) will be added to our Lovin' Local Fridays after we make our stop at Eastern Market.  And if any of my friends in real life (who live nearby) want to try some, feel free to come on over.  I'll warm it up, slather some butter or jelly on it and we can sit and enjoy knowing exactly what we're eating and where it came from.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Barbies and Babies

Once I had decided I was definitely going to nurse Doodle, I knew it was pretty much inevitable that at some point Bug would try "nurse" her baby dolls.  This is just something little girls do (you can ask me sometime about how I nursed my "baby" discreetly after my little sister was born).  However, I was pretty confident it would just be her baby dolls (i.e. cute, cuddly dolls with stuffed bodies that come with every baby accessory that you can imagine stepping on...I mean, playing with).  But recently the daughter of a close friend was cleaning out her toys and decided to hand down her Disney princess Barbie dolls to Bug (Ariel, Snow White i.e. Snow Man in Bug's terms, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella).  Bug was THRILLED!  This was her first introduction to Barbie dolls and she loves their little shoes and taking off their pretty dresses.

Yes...taking off their dresses is what led to this mama being slightly disturbed.  It is fairly normal for Bug to pick up a baby doll when I'm feeding Doodle and "nurse" it.  It's also fairly normal for her to find a bottle and some tubing and tell me she needs to "pump."  But on this particular day, we were just driving to meet J for lunch.  She had her babies (Barbie dolls) in the backseat of the car and had decided they needed to be "nakie babies."  Then she said, "Mommy, I need to nurse my babies."  So I look back and see Bug stuffing the Disney princess Barbie doll under her shirt.  Now, it doesn't bother me at all when she does this with her cute, innocent dollies, but something about stuffing a very naked, very well-endowed, buxom Belle Barbie doll under her shirt just disturbed me!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Oh the Horror...on the Playground!

Bug is a very active little girl and LOVES to go to a park or playground.  Any one will do, she's never met one she hasn't liked:)  So Thursday evening after dinner we headed to one of the parks nearby.  I didn't like the older kids (age 12 or 13) sliding down the slides at the smaller playground so we headed up to the bigger playground at the elementary school.  It's a great playground and she was having a lot of fun...

...I'm not sure which part of what happened next disgusted me more.  In fact I'm still kind of processing it.  There was a mom with 2 little ones who each looked about a year older than my girls, so roughly 3 and 1/2 and 1 and 1/2.  The 3 and 1/2 year old was clearly giving her mother some attitude, but this mother was giving it back.  I guess the little girl had indicated that she needed to go to the bathroom so her mother told her they needed to go (Brace yourself...Horror #1), not knowing that it was already too late.  The little girl sat on the playground and muttered under her breath, "You stupid mom!"  I was shocked!  We are very careful not to use that word where little ears can hear, though I'm sure Bug has heard it occasionally.  Then, there's Horror #2.  As I said, this mother didn't realize it was already too late and that her daughter had already relieved herself.  Yep, you can probably guess what's coming...Little Girl had an accident on the sliding board, Bug didn't know the slide was wet (curvy tunnel slide so neither did we) and Bug slid right down the slide through Little Girl's accident.  There really wasn't anything more disturbing in that moment than looking up as Bug went running across the playground, seeing very wet shorts, sniffing them and picking up the scent of urine, and then knowing that it was the urine of another child!  I'm not a germ-a-phobe, but it still grossed me out. Bug was quickly changed into clean clothes, she happily continued playing, and she most certainly received a bath when we got home!  Lesson learned: Always look (or feel or sniff) before you slide!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

School Choices

Bug is only 2 and 1/2, but school choice is something I have contemplated since before she was born.  J and I are both graduates of a small Christian school in our area, but we don't plan to send our girls there for a variety of reasons (which I'd be happy to discuss with anyone who asks, but this isn't the place for that).  I was a public school educator for 5 years before Bug was born and have no issue sending my daughters to public school, except that I'm not a huge fan of the school district we currently live in (children and where they'd go to school weren't on my mind when we bought our house 6 years ago).  With those things taken into consideration (and the fact that I have a background and 2 degrees in education), homeschooling has come up in discussions more than once, but I had NEVER considered it for preschool.

Then, I decided to join Community Bible Study this year and the times for that meant I wouldn't be able to get Aubri from preschool on time (the wonderful one I had enrolled her in!) so I had to tell them she wouldn't be coming.  Then a college aquaintance showed all of the wonderful things she did with her daughter and one of her daughter's friends at home and I thought, "Brilliant!  Preschool/Tot School/Mommy School (whatever you want to call it) at home!"  I asked a close friend to join us one day a week and decided to do "school" with Aubri a little more unofficially the other days...Except now I'm not feeling so brilliant about it.  I'm thoroughly looking forward to that one day a week when I get to see another adult and Bug will have a friend to do school's the other days that concern me.  Another preschool opportunity with days/times that fit our schedule opened up, but I hmmmed and hawed and hmmmed and hawed and drove Jarrod crazy with my hmmming and hawing and hmmmed and hawed some more...and in the end decided not to send her, though I'm not sure why.

  Enter the week that Bug has pushed all of my buttons...yes, I want to send her to preschool!  But then she wakes up in the morning and says, "We do preschool, Mommy?  Preschool in the basement? (that's where our "school room" is set up because J worked so hard two years ago to finish our basement and provide a beautiful family room/play area/school area for our family) We sit on the floor and sing songs?  Josh come to preschool?"  And that melts (and breaks) my heart...melts, because I'm so glad she thinks it's going to be fun, she's interested in school (though I'm pretty sure she has no earthly idea what preschool is), and I know my years of being her teacher and her main influence won't last forever.  Breaks my heart because it convicts me of the fact that she wants to be near me and do fun things and I wanted to send her to school. 

So even though it's not really "homeschooling," we're going to give this Mommy School thing a try.  Fortunately for me (my background is 3rd/4th grade, not early childhood ed), there's Pinterest, LOTS of Tot School/Teaching Mommy blogs, etc to help me figure out how to "do school" with a 2 and 1/2 year old.  I have enjoyed purchasing some learning toys and we're going loosely Montessori/thematic with the assistance of Heart of Dakota's Little Hands to Heaven curriculum.  And you know what?  I'm pumped for my curriculum to arrive and for our "school room" (really a school corner) to be set up like I want it.   Will we become die hard homeschoolers?  As of now, I'm thinking probably not, but for now Mommy School it is!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...Laundry Edition

When we bought our house, I had no idea that we were entering a hard water situation.  I'm pretty sure (okay 95% sure) it would have been a deal breaker for me.  Between the water and our washer (which I think contributes to the problem), my whites don't stay white, but have a gray tinge to them, the girls' colored clothing, (especially pale pinks, yellows, and greens) get a gross faded tinge to them and stains (any kind...even the ones that are supposed to come out) don't come out.  So over the last several years, especially since we had the girls, I have tried everything to make our white clothes whiter, get stains out, etc.  And in that time frame, I've come up with a few of my favorites...and a few of my "won't ever use again or recommend to ANYONE!"

1) Sunbleaching- I know...who knew that the sun in the sky could be such a wonderful laundry tool? This is something I didn't realize until we started using cloth diapers with Doodle.  The stains were unbearable and I wasn't sure what to do.  The sun came to my rescue and I have taken great joy this summer in seeing my cloth diapers in a variety of colors and patterns swaying in the breeze.  I've started using this method for other things as well.

2) Baking Soda- Though I do buy the Arm and Hammer detergent, I have started adding baking soda straight from the box into my washing machine. I'm not sure how much difference it is making compared with other things I'm trying (read I haven't done comparison study with a test group), but it makes me feel better.

3) Vinegar- After attending a Mommy Talk on using organic and natural products (which we do some of) and then reading an article on what chemicals are in fabric softener, I gave up my fabric sheets addiction.  I used to throw a handful of fabric softener sheets into the dryer every time, but after reading about all of the chemicals a softener sheet contains, I've stopped for the most part.  Vinegar can be used as a fabric softener substitute by pouring into the liquid fabric softener place in your washing machine and, no, your clothes won't smell like vinegar.

4) Dish Soap and Peroxide- I read about this when searching for ways to make your clothes whiter and found that mixing hot water, dish soap, and LOTS of peroxide together and letting things soak does help stains...and it did to an extent.  Following this with sunbleaching helped.

5) I'd be remiss if I left out my mother-in-law and my mom.  Yes, they are two of my laundry agents.  When things just won't stay white or I just can't get stains out using our awful water or our washing machine, they graciously wash certain items for me at their house;)

"Won't Ever Use Again or Recommend to Anyone!"
1) Baby Ganics Stain Remover- maybe it was the combo of the stain remover and our water, but this stain remover left streaks on Aubri's clothes.  I did love that it was organic and contained less chemicals, but isn't the purpose of a stain remover to remove stains, not contribute new ones?

2) RLR Laundry Treatment- I ordered this from one of the places I buy cloth diapers and it was AWFUL!  The description claimed to "make whites whiter and colors brighter for a few cents a month.  Removes dried in mineral deposits and detergent residue from clothing."  Wrong!  Though it said to put it in with dry or wet laundry (tried both), it just clumped up and didn't rinse off of my clothes, leaving white clumps of nasty residue that I had to wash multiple times.

If you have hard water and have any other helpful suggestions, I'm open to them.  I don't like my kids going out with stains on their clothes (reason I buy Aubri's summer play clothes at Target vs. Gymboree) and I like my little girls' white tanks, tees, onesies, and dresses to stay white!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"The Bush" vs. "The White Picket Fence"

I've been thinking a lot lately about balance, not just balance in my life as a mother of two little girls, but balance as I look at third world countries/developing nations through first world eyes at times. When I graduated from college, I never thought I'd be living in the United States, let alone raising children here.  I had always assumed God's plan for me including teaching overseas (either ESL or TCKs) or living in the bush somewhere.  Then I married J and his family's business is here.  He loves his work and I am so thankful to have a husband who has a job that provides well for our family and that he enjoys it at the same time.  But somewhere, we have to find a balance in between those desires.  And we have been striving to do that for our entire marriage (and are getting much better at it).

We just finished going through David Platt's (author  of Radical and Radical Together) study of the book of James in our small group and it has really opened my eyes to how we spend our money, how what I do day in, day out is furthering the kingdom of God and leading others to Christ, etc.  There are days when I would be willing to sell everything (well almost everything, but at least all of the "stuff") and move to "The Bush" somewhere among an African tribal people or deep in the rainforests of South America or Southeast Asia.  Days when I know raising my girls amidst another culture and teaching them to be grateful for all that they have is the deepest desire of my heart.  Days when I want to donate my girls' clothes because who really needs 10+ bins of little girl clothes in their attic?  And then there are the days where I desire to have a new minivan because we just "need" more space.  Days I "need" new living room furniture because the dog has pretty much destroyed our little loveseat and what do people think when they see our sad couch the moment they enter our home?  Days when the dream of owning land and building our dream house overtake the desire to donate large amounts of money to the missionaries who currently have two mortgages.  Days when the urge to repaint my home and have people praise me for what it looks like overtake the desire to send extra money to our sponsored children.  So how does one come to a good middle point of balance with these decisions?  How do you do it (if you struggle with these things)?

We have very close friends of ours who are in the midst of preparing to take their family of four to minister in Papua New Guinea and when I first heard this news, my first reaction (after I stopped sobbing at the thought of "losing" a dear friend and my daughter's best friend to the other side of the world) was to be jealous.  My second reaction was to ask why it wasn't me.  My third reaction was to be thankful I didn't have to make the 20 billion hour (okay...slight exaggeration) flight with 2 children under age 3.  Again, where's the balance?

Last week we decided that it was time to replace said sad loveseat with seating that is attractive, comfortable, not peed on by the dog, and sits more than 3 total people in our living room.  However, when J went to purchase it last night, I couldn't do it.  I couldn't let him spend x amount on a sofa and 2 chairs (that we were getting for a VERY good deal) because my mind was overtaken by the thoughts of starving children, missionaries without sufficient funds, dear friends about to embark on the journey of raising support, and even the thought that that money could go towards plane tickets for us to go (short-term mind you...3 weeks or so) with our little family to minister to missionary friends serving around the world.  Where's the balance?

My sister and J reminded me that I can further the kingdom of God by having a hospitable home environment in which to serve others, have families into my home, minister to other moms, etc.  They reminded me that it's okay to have nice things.  But for me, this summer in particular, it has been a constant battle..."The Bush" vs. "The White Picket Fence."  New sofa vs. extra money to our sponsored children.  New minivan vs. $ for plane tickets to visit/minister to friends serving in other countries.  Where's the balance?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Livin' and Lovin' Local

I'm feeling pretty good about the items I was able to get this week at some great discounts.  If you've never visited then you should really try it out.  She gives lists of store deals and the Target deals (with links to online coupons and Target coupons or references to newspaper coupons) are usually pretty incredible and save lots of money!!$$! 

$21 of merchandise for $11.44.  Yep, that's Chobani Champions Yogurt for kids that I got for $1 instead of $3, a Chobani yogurt, disinfecting wipes, 2 boxes of Annie's Organic Mac N' Cheese, Suave Shampoo for Kids, Suave Body Wash for kids, contact solution, markers, colored pencils, 2 boxes of crayons (both free), 10 pack of pens (free), and a roll of Scotch tape (also free)!

And for a little follow-up to yesterday's post about why I love to shop at farm markets and buy local produce, take a look at today's stash (which probably would have been more if the basket underneath the stroller was bigger or if Aubri was bigger and could carry more...or if the locally grown cantaloupes hadn't been so massive!).

It might be hard to see, but that's 2 heads of romaine lettuce, 2 cantaloupes, 4 lemons, 1 lb of plums (4 or 5 of them), 8 kiwis, 1 dozen ears of corn, a bag of grapes, 2 avocados, a quarter of a yellow watermelon, and a quart of blueberries (not pictured) for $21.  Try getting all of that locally grown produce for that price in the grocery store...go ahead, I dare you!

And because I just can't help myself, a parting picture of Bug proudly holding her yellow watermelon, which just might be her favorite find of the summer! (Please ignore the clutter in the background!)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

York County Favs

I am not a native York Countian and I once told the Lord that I would never live in York County (I also told Him I'd never date my husband again, let alone marry him and we all see how that worked out 5 and 1/2 years of marriage and 2 beautiful children later), but when we make plans, God sometimes just smiles down on us and says, "That's what you think, my daughter!"  So while I never want to hear anyone refer to me as a "Yorker," there are several things I love about York County in the summertime.  Here are my top 5 in no particular order.

1) Barefoot Farms- Located just north of Dover in the northern part of York County, Barefoot Farms is a beautiful place to go to pick-your-own strawberries, raspberries, and pumpkins.  It is owned by the sweetest, Christian people and we have taken Bugaboo (and now Doodle) since she was a baby.  I want my children to realize that food doesn't just magically appear at the grocery store, but that it grows from the ground.  I want my kids to feel the dirt between their toes and have seeds between their teeth and stains on their faces because they ate more berries than they picked!  I want those smiling pictures of them holding the pumpkin that is bigger than they are!  Last summer they opened a sandwich and ice cream shop so now you can have fresh raspberry and strawberry sundaes after picking.

2) Eastern Market- Located just off of Market Street in East York and only open on Fridays, Eastern Market is one of my favorite locations to take my girls.  The first few times I went, I wore Doodle in the Ergo and pushed Bugaboo in the stroller.  Bug quickly realized, however, that she wanted to partake in choosing fresh produce so she started walking next to me holding on to her station (rings linked together hanging off of the stroller- idea taken from Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic).  Her favorite things to purchase are "big, juicy wa-der-mel-on, kiwis, and mangoes."  We also splurge on a special treat on the mornings we go to market and share pretzel dogs and a fresh squeezed lemonade for lunch.  I have tried to start encouraging Bug to pick out a "treat" and have it be fresh fruit that I know was grown not far from where we're purchasing it.

3) Flinchbaugh's Orchard and Farm Market- (Are you noticing a trend here?)  I just discovered the joy of Flinchbaugh's this summer.  I had driven by it occasionally on the way to visit friends who lived out towards Wrightsville, and yes, it's a 25 minute drive from my house, but I love the friendly staff and the fact that I can see the peach trees from the parking lot, knowing my peaches are nice and fresh.  They offer peach picking, apple picking, and pumpkin picking and also tours for a small fee.  They have a Summer Fest in July and a Fall Fest in October and we had a lot of fun.  Bug LOVES farms and so she enjoyed the wagon ride.  I love that my daughter is asking to go to "Finchbaugh Farm Makit" on her own.  She especially enjoys the yellow variety of watermelon we have purchased there.  Yes, it is a little pricier than some of the produce that is sold in the grocery  store, but to me the price it worth it to know it hasn't been pesticided to death, I know where it's coming from, and I'm supporting the "little man" by buying locally!

4) Perrydell Farms- This is Bug's all-time favorite place to visit.  I'm not sure where it came from, but Bugaboo has an obsession with cows.  She LOVES them!  At Perrydell Farms, you can visit with the calves up close in their hutches- pet them, get slobbered on by them, take in their lovely odor, er, aroma.  The best part in Bug's mind, though, is getting to feed the calves.  If you visit Perrydell around 4:00 pm, you can help to bottlefeed the calves.  You can also watch the "big cows" being milked in the milking parlor.  They're behind a glass window, but when they exit it's like you can reach out and touch them. We took a tour with our mom's group this summer and got to pet the calves, see the cows, watch the bottling process, walk in the refrigerator, and have chocolate milk and cookies.  Bug enjoys picking out a flavored milk or her own individual-sized jug of white milk to take home with us.  They also have delicious ice cream.  I don't know about you, but I like knowing that my milk ran through some pipes 100 yards away, was bottled, and sold to me.  Yum!  We go to "visit the cows" at least once a week...and Bug has several pictures of cows in her bedroom.  I've got to find some friends who will let us borrow cows and join 4-H.

5) York County Library Summer Reading Program and GO York! Letterboxing Program-
Whoever came up with the idea to combine reading with outdoor activity was a genius.  We live in the days of childhood obesity and children thinking that their food comes from McDonald's (hence all of my farm market/fresh food likes above).  So the York County Library decided to team up with GO York! and offer a reading program combined with letterboxing activities to be found throughout 30 different parks in York County.  This year the theme was Dream Big Read! and Go and Search the Galaxy!  We have had a great time following the clues and finding "rubbings" and it has given us the opportunity to discover wonderful parks and playgrounds throughout areas of the county that I wouldn't otherwise have familiarized myself with.  We have completed 20 out of 30 rubbings and read our 800 minutes and I'm pretty proud of Bug for all of her efforts (and hey, I'm just a little proud of myself for my efforts as well).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

16 Years Later...Another Gold!

It seems I do my best blogging late at night after I have stayed up way past my bedtime (and everyone elses' in my household) watching the, there won't be nearly as many blog posts once the Olympics are over because I will be in bed at semi-normal times and won't have the chance to blog.

I started this post last night right after the Fab/Fierce Five claimed their Olympic gold medal in Women's Gymnastics Team Competition and I stayed up way too late to watch it.  Jarrod encouraged me to watch it online ("Kor, you know it's not live, right?"), but my only response was that I watched the Magnificent Seven win the gold sixteen years ago and I was going to watch the Fab Five win it now.  I didn't expect him to understand because as a 13 year old boy he certainly wasn't glued to the television as Kerri Strug vaulted on an injured and ankle and Bela Karoly cheered "You can do it!" (in Romanian accent) from the sidelines.  But he tried and I appreciated that:)

Maybe it's the fact that I always wanted to be a gymnast (as so many American, Russian, Chinese little girls do).  Maybe it's the fact that I sit and watch in awe as they flip through the air and miraculously land on a piece of wood 4 inches wide.  Maybe it's just the American patriotism in me, but there was no way I was going to turn off the television and miss it.  I will say, however, that I felt quite old as I watched Gabby, Jordyn, Ally, McKayla, and Kyla.  Some of them were less than a year old when the Magnificent 7 won the gold 16 years ago...crazy!  I did some research to see where the Magnificent 7 were now and learned that they are married, have kids, are pediatricians, etc...yep, I officially feel old.  Even so, there is a sense of pride when our country brings home another gold medal and so I'll continue to stay up late, enjoy the human interest stories in between the action of the Games,  and get teary-eyed as our anthem plays and the American flag is raised until the very end.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Drenched Ducks

Remember that time when you were about 2 and 1/2 years old, Bug?  And you, Doodle, were about 5 months old...and Mama let you stand out in a torrential downpour so we could watch rubber ducks float down a creek?  That was pretty awesome, wasn't it!

Hopefully, my girls' answer will be "Yes, Mom, you gave us fun opportunities even in unusual circumstances and we're grateful for them!"  One can certainly dream, right?

Yesterday was the Great Rubber Duckie Race in Lancaster (about 40 minutes from us).  It's one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for Schreiber Pediatric, a rehabilitation center that does amazing things for developmentally and physically disabled or delayed children within the community (PT, OT, speech therapy, etc.).  Basically they have food, games, prizes, and 25,000 rubber duckies.  Yes, you read that right.  People can "buy" duckies (you're given a slip with your duck's number on it and a souvenir duck, prizes are awarded for the first 10 ducks that cross, etc.) and then 25,000 ducks are dropped out of a large box and float a set distance down the creek.  It really was great fun to watch thousands of blue, pink, and yellow ducks float downstream, but in the process we got caught in a torrential downpour.  My sister, her boyfriend's sister-in-law, and myself had taken the three little girls to go find a good place to watch the ducks while the 3 guys stood in line for funnel cakes.  It started to pour soon after we'd found our spot.  My knight of a husband comes running down in the downpour to make sure we were okay with the kids, my sister's boyfriend's brother stands in the rain to get the other 2 funnel cakes, makes sure they're wrapped in foil (after all, who likes a soggy funnel cake?) and runs down as well.  And my sister's boyfriend?  Well, he ate his funnel cake in the dry pavillion and then came to join us:)  Don't get me wrong, we all love him, but he won't be living that down any time soon...especially not since the 3 little ones ages 2 and 1/2, 1, and 5 months were dripping and the rest of us look like drowned rats! 

So while I might not be getting the Mother of the Year Award for letting Bug and Doodle stand out in the rain, hopefully I've created memories for my girls. Bug? She never fussed about being drippy.  Instead she just asked to ride a pony when the rain stopped.  And Doodle?  She just downed her bottle while blinking the raindrops off of her cute little eyelashes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Haircuts and the Olympics

Today was a pretty big day in the life of Bugaboo.  We had a playdate with new friends she'd never played with before (though I've known their mom for about a year or so through our Mom N' Me group) and she had a blast. The highlight for her was probably a tie between dumping water on each other at our water table and getting to share her watermelon popsicles with her new friend.  Yes, the bond of sharing food starts at a young age.  Even at the ages of 2 and 1/2 and 3 and 1/2 food seems to seal the bonds of friendship and fellowship like no other...that and sharing things like tricycles, baby strollers, and sliding boards.

Then I decided this evening that since I was long overdue for a haircut, I'd take Bug with me and let her get her first haircut.  All of the flyaways and mullet-like strands were starting to drive me crazy!  She did an amazing job sitting like a pro on my lap in her cute little animal cape.  Jodi, my beloved hairdresser, did a phenomenal job explaining each step to her and in the end only about an inch and a half or so was cut off.  Best part of the whole thing for Bug?  The lollipop of, not getting to watch PBS Kids on Daddy's Droid (something that rarely happens), not spending time alone with Mommy (something that rarely happens), not getting to pick out a bracelet...nope, getting to eat a lollipop (which is also something that rarely happens).  I will say that Bug was a bit befuddled by my "eyebrows getting a haircut" which was the best way I knew to explain eyebrow waxing to a 2 year old:)

And finally, I let Aubri stay up for some of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.  My dear husband doesn't seem to understand my enthusiasm or what the fuss is all about, but Bugaboo will be 6 and 1/2 the next time the summer Olympics roll around.  Unfortunately, she only made it until about 8:30 and just didn't quite get all of the fuss over British history and all of the loud drums.  And while I appreciated it a little more, I didn't get all of it either.  It didn't quite live up to the opening ceremonies in Beijing 4 years ago.

So here's to new adventures with my little girl and several weeks of Olympic fun!  Happy weekend everyone!
                                                            Before Bug's first haircut

                                                         After Bug's first haircut

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Naps Are a Good Thing

Dear Baby Girl,
You are only 5 months old.  This is way too young to give up napping!  It is Wednesday and you have napped less than an hour all day long.  It wears me out thinking about it.  I'd be alright with this if you didn't scream at all attempts to put you down for a nap.  Mama is not a big fan of the "cry it out" approach therefore I haven't let you cry it out for much more than 2 minutes, 3 minutes tops.  Instead, I have put you in the Jenny Jump-up, your swing, the bouncy seat, cuddled you, laid you on my chest, nursed you, and taken you outside and cuddled you some more.  I love cuddling you, Little One, but I also know that sleeping is good for your well-being.  Some day you will be a high school and college student who will just want to sleep the summer away and I will remind you of these days as a 5 month old when sleep was the farthest thing from your mind (but not from your mama's). 

If this is a separation anxiety thing, please know that Mommy will be there when you wake up, Little One.  I will hug you and cuddle you and love you.  If this is a teething thing, then I hope your teeth come in soon.  And if this is just a "Doodle thing," then I will try to have enough patience to make it through this sleep-deprived stage!  I love you, Baby Girl!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Happy Medium Parenting

There's been a lot of talk in the media in recent years about parenting styles: attachment parenting, being a "helicopter" parent, using Baby Wise methods, being a "crunchy" mom, etc. And every time the media talks they bash one side or the other.  So I'm proposing a sort of "happy medium parenting."  Too bad I can't write a book on it and market this idea, but really it comes down to something I recently read on another blog and that is basically the idea of loving your kids unconditionally and wanting what is best for them. 

Me?  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I cloth diaper (except when I don't), I breastfeed (as long as I'm able to), I baby wear (love my Ergo!).  But I also allow my girls to receive most of their vaccines, I feed K on a schedule for the most part (minus the whole middle of the night thing), and I don't co-sleep (at least not very often or intentionally) And you know?  I really like our "happy medium" approach and it works for us.   

The Meaning Behind the Name

Bug-a-boo and Doodle, huh?  Kind of an odd name for a blog, but there are SOOO many blog names out there that have already been taken I had to be creative.  "Mom blogs" are kind of vogue these days so we'll see how this goes.

My two little girls, Aubri and Kenzi, are the apples of my eye and they have received various nicknames from their mama in their short lifetimes.  Aubri has been given the nickname "Aubri-Bug" or Aubrianna Bug-a-Boo" since she was an infant, sometimes just shortened to "Bug."  When Kenzi was born, we decided Kenzi-Bear was a cutesy nickname, but more often than not, we call her our little Kenzi Doodle.  So there you have it, folks...Bug-a-Boo and Doodle.  Welcome to my blog!