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beach 2014

Last month we spent some time in Ocean City, NJ. It was one of my favorite family vacations there, and I’ve taken quite a few! Maybe because of watching the cousins enjoying playing together even more now that they are older or maybe just seeing our family grow and still take time to vacation together, it just makes me happy. Plus any time Kyle has a few days off to spend with us is a treat! We took bike rides, runs, long walks, ate ice cream, and spent a lot of time in the pool water (Elsa was not a fan of sand or ocean water!).

Big Sister

This has been what much of our summer has looked like. Resting on the sofa for me with El either looking out the window, laying on me, or emptying every single toy out of her bins and onto the floor. Being pregnant is no joke. First trimesters are just plain hard for me. Lots of peculiar cravings and queasiness and more fatigue than I’ve realized possible. But now that the 1st trimester is finished, I’m hoping for lots of energy to match Elsa’s! Last night, Kyle asked me why a dripping, wet sock of his was on the top of our bureau. At first I was puzzled, but then I told him I know of only one person in our house who has an affinity for sticking items in the toilet. We both just had to laugh. I can only imagine the shenanigans that will result when El has a little brother or sister join her.

Masters of Their Craft // Love ‘n Fresh Flowers

Interviewing Jennie Love left me in amazement over the incredible flower farm she started outside of Philadelphia. She grows every flower herself that she uses in her floral business. This woman knows how to work, and she knows how to create beauty with her hands. The way her business has flourished is remarkable, and she began and continues to run Love ‘n Fresh without debt. Remarkable! Her story is worth reading, and you can see the feature and all the beautiful pictures Char captured here.

Our Little El


Today, Elsa and I took a morning jog, played in the kiddie pool on our patio, stopped by the orchard for some cantaloupe, and stayed to have lunch with my parents. Summer as it should be.

I also want to note one of my favorite moments of being a parent thus far…yesterday, I was cutting fruit in the kitchen while Elsa was riding on her toy car in the living room. I said, “Elsa, will you come give Mama a hug?” She left her toy, ran to me, gave me a hug, and ran back into the living room. So this is why they say fruit of the womb is a reward.

How to make a clothing budget

The girls at the studio asked me to write an article on how I budget for clothing. I enjoy budgets and making sure we use our money wisely. I also love clothing so this is how I reconcile the two. I think women have a tendency to either spend and spend, racking up debt, or they spend nothing because they feel guilty with all the other places money seems to be needed. The following article is how Kyle and I have established our clothing budget, and it has worked well so far for us for the past four years. 

Image Source: Thanks, Char, for taking the photos.

The frost of heaven


Photo Source: The Lebanon Daily News

The newspaper interviewed my dad and another fruit farmer about this year’s cherry freeze for this article. Oh, how I will miss those cherries. No making sweet cherry jam and none of my mom’s montmorency sour cherry pie. No Mennonite or Amish families with their 6 or 7 little sets of helping hands pulling red wagons full of buckets of cherries. Bucket by bucket we would use the same old black scale to weigh them that has appeared in the orchard every June since the first cherry harvest years ago. It was not uncommon for them to have picked 100, 150, even 200 pounds of cherries. Cherry picking always seemed somewhat of a social event to me with grandparents arriving with their grandchildren, friends meeting fellow friends before heading to work, and sisters bringing their children for a morning of picking.

The reward from farming doesn’t make logical sense to me. Maybe because I have PA Dutch veins or maybe because of my 30 plus years of American life, I have embedded as one of my core beliefs that the harder you work, the more you succeed. Work hard and reap what you sow. But not always with farming. Work hard each year and maybe you’ll reap what you sow. No guarantees. I watched my father wake before dawn almost every day (he slept in on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s) and some Sundays (which for him was 6:30 am). He left the house in jeans, a t-shirt, and a John Deere cap, but on blistering summer days, he wore shorts. We knew by seeing Dad’s stark white legs contrasting with his browned arms it wasn’t hot but HOT. Every day at noon, we saw him drive down the lane in one of his farm trucks to join us for lunch, take a 20 minute nap, and return to the orchards. He came home for supper, caught a few baseballs or played a round of kickball with us girls, and then returned until his work was finished. Sometimes after dark, sometimes before. Press repeat for the remainder of the summer.

So when fruit freezes, I imagine it’s a bit of a slap in the face. What did I do wrong? Why this year? I wish I could have tried a little harder or done a little more. There is an element to farming that requires our best effort, but there’s an element to farming that does not require our best effort. I think farmers who endure decades of their work well are men and women of faith. And not faith in the vapid, vague, politically correct sense of the word but the Greek pistis sense of the word: We walk by faith not sight. He did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

 My father has yet to enjoy a lunch break devoid of the meteorologist’s latest report playing on the TV set in the next room. But I think he has survived his almost 40 year farming career because he trusts in a very wise Weatherman who commands the mornings, who keeps the storehouses of snow and hail, and who tips the water jars of the heavens (Job 38).

From whose womb has come the ice?

And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?

Job 38: 29

Masters of Their Craft // The Fishers

This was my second Masters of Their Craft feature for the studio. Learning about the journey of Chris and Karen Fisher along with their four children that brought them to Lititz, PA to open a quaint cafe called Tomato Pie amazed me.  They dabbled in other sorts of businesses before finding the ones that fit, but their experiences in Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado equipped them for their life in PA. Entrepreneurs inspire me, and husband/wife entrepreneurial teams just seem right to me. For their full story and pictures, click here

Photos: Thanks, Char, for taking the photos to accompany this!

The Art of Woodworking

Tomorrow at midnight is the last night to sign up for The Art of Woodworking held at the studio. Please join us! You will make this reclaimed wood box as well as learn some woodworking info and tips from two skilled guys whose creations always impress me. I’m very much looking forward to Thursday evening and meeting everyone who attends. Reserve your spot here.

Images: Char Co.

start to the day

What better way to start the day than rolling around on Mama and Dada’s bed?

mothers day 2014

Elsa seemed to realize there was something special about last Sunday. The day started when I asked her for a hug, and she leaned towards me and kissed me on the forehead. A little later that morning, she ran to me while I was playing piano and wrapped her arms around my waist. No prompting from Kyle whatsoever!

As you can see, it’s a highly complicated task getting a Mother-Daughter photo with a 20 month old!