farm camp creative projects

I have been working on all sorts of fun ideas for Farm Camp. This is a personal favorite: the rope rainbow. I have seen these all over online, and I love how each one turns out so different and unique.

Planning for Farm Camp has been so exciting. I am beginning to see how each day will feel, and how it will all come together. Our week this summer is going to be so much fun.. the crafts, the teachings, the meals, and the farm projects are all really varied and creative. This is the camp I would have LOVED when I was in high school.

We will be making these rope rainbows on day three, the day we focus on how we are God's handiwork, created in Christ to do good works. We will spend time discussing how we all have creation within us, made with a purpose by a loving and thoughtful God, and how we might share our unique loves and passions with the world.

This little rainbow is a hopeful sign to me of all that is to come!

Sunday morning with little ones

This Sunday Alden woke up especially clingy, and even while at home, would not let me set him down. He had his hand in his mouth and I assume it was some sort of teething thing.

But it meant that when we got to church, he also wasn't letting me set him down. Which is fine. Some mornings he will gladly go into the church nursery, and other mornings he makes it very clear by body lunging away from that side of the hall, that he is not going in there. But our church is gracious and usually we can be in the service at least during the singing.

And then there is the cry room that has a feed of the service for moms and dads to watch while their kids play. Lately, that's where Alden and I spend most of our morning.

And it's a funny mind game. Immediately I want to feel sorry for myself (I should say that Rory takes his turn as well, but often he is volunteering in the service as an usher, so he can't really leave as easily) and there is a devious voice that sneaks in and wonders why we made the effort to get to church anyway. Afterall, I could just watch this same service at home, with a sleeping Alden in his crib, instead of sitting on the floor, playing fire trucks, feeding the needy child donut holes and catching every forth sentence.

But I caught myself this past Sunday. I made myself list all of the conversations I had during Fellowship Hour. And some of them were very meaningful to me. And then after service we stayed a long time (we are the folks who tend to close the place down...a genetic trait we both got from our own parents) and I had a few more great conversations.

On the drive home I realized I had two VERY TRUE stories I could have reported to Rory from my morning. The first was the pity party story of sitting in that back room with a fussy Alden, feeling tired and exhausted (likely from the donut holes I was sugar crashing on). The second was the connection I had with so-and-so before church and the life-giving talk I had with so-and-so after church. And I decided in the moment to tell the second story because I would have missed out on those meaningful connections if I had stayed home and watched in my pajamas.

The other story from the morning: After sitting in the cry room for a while I told Alden we could go see Daddy in church if he was very quiet and colored next to me. He said, "Yaasss." That he did want to do that. So we walked back into our spots, sat down and just then our pastor began talking about Peter. And everytime he said "Peter" Alden would yell, "Pizza! Pizza!" I tried to shush him, give him a cracker, distract him, but he was very interested in the sermon now, waiting for Pastor Brent to say the buzz word again. He did, and Alden excitedly yelled, "Pizza!" again, and then I had to take the walk of shame (not really, but you if you are a mom who has already exited the church with a noisy child, and have to do it definitely feels this way!) back through all the church, back into the cry room to play firetrucks with Alden.

And likely if we asked Alden, he would say his favorite part of the morning was playing fire trucks with his mom on the floor.

Farm Camp this summer at our farm!!

I have been having a whole lot of fun lately. I am planning a week long day-camp at our farm this summer for 8 high school girls. It's basically my dream summer camp...exactly what I would love to do (and not do.) So there will be no spinning-our-foreheads-around-a-baseball-bat relays. But there will be lots of creative projects- embroidery hoops, mixed media collages, and daily baking or preserving. Every night each camper will go home with something edible to share with their family.

Mostly, I'm so excited to get the ears of these girls and to pour some dreams and hopes into their hearts. The decisions that a girl makes from ages 15-25 will have implications and consequences for the rest of their lives. These years are so, so important for keeping an eye on the big picture, and not just the immediate and instant. So we will talk about all sorts of topics from finding life-giving, supportive friends, wisdom in dating, the gift of marriage and the joy of one day having their own family. What fun to get to dream big dreams together! And what a gift to have time to seek the Lord and spend time listening to his voice in these matters.

And then there is the farm! We'll be working in the garden (not a lot, but enough to learn about weeding and good soil and growth) and with the animals (we'll milk the goat and make goat milk soap, spend time with the sheep, feed the pigs and we are hoping to have eggs hatching the week the girls are here in our new egg incubator). Everything we learn about on the farm will be connected to scriptures that highlight God's ways. This winter we have carved out two afternoons a week when I am writing the curriculum I will be teaching (or the girls will be reading) and I cannot wait! It's so rich! As always, I feel like I am the first student, soaking up these lessons as I learn and am so excited to pass these truths along.

I am envisioning a varied group of girls. Some might be from the city, with no experience on a farm at all. And maybe even no actual interest! But I want these girls to feel the welcome of a family farm and to experience a week here, sort of like when I visited my Grandma's farm growing up. I was definitely a city mouse, but am so grateful I had so many family farms (aunts and uncles) to visit throughout my childhood. Some girls might be from around this area and just interested in a summer camp that is closer to home or that lets them sleep in their own bed each night! (That would have been me growing up.)

And others might feel like they would love to live on a farm one day, but don't live on one now. I have two good friends from church who came to our farm last summer to help me, a junior and senior in high school. Both of them lived in town and one told me, "I just have this feeling I am going to be a missionary one day in a country where I will need to grow my own food and I want to start learning." (Talk about life vision and goals!!!) And the other told me, "I just want to learn how to garden and preserve my food and see how you do it all as a mom." Their visits were an absolute highlight of my summer and got me dreaming of this day camp that I am calling Farm Camp. I see the need, and I understand the gift of living this lifestyle for a short time to help cast a big and full vision for the campers that come. (Obviously they won't all move to a farm! But maybe they'll take an interest in gardening. Or making their own pickles from grocery store cucumbers.)

Can you tell I'm excited? It's really fun to tap into my former life as a Bible Camp program director and to see how God is creatively merging my life as a mother and farmer with camp ministry.

So one afternoon Rory and I made this spiffy little promo video. We had the kids upstairs playing in the bedroom, kept quiet by a sleeve of club crackers, and quickly recorded this baby in one shot. I didn't rehearse what I would say and in the end I think it does a fine job communicating the heart of this camp. As one who has never been able to take a selfie, this was a very awkward experience for me, but whatever. Hopefully it will help spread the word!

If you know of anyone who may be interested, send them my way! A full rundown of our topics from day to day can be found at this link on The Grovestead website. I am so excited for the week we will have together. It is going to be full of worthwhile experiences, conversations and teachings. Plus, it's just so great to think about summer, isn't it?!!

a tv show pitch...

On a given Saturday afternoon, when in the midst of the sports channels, you might see an ice fishing competition on one channel, a down hill skiing race on another, ice dancing on one and a bowling tournament on another. 

I have an idea for another sport. It would be all footage of mothers getting their children out the door in their snow gear. There would be a commentator, announcing how it is going, what might be going wrong, telling what the mother intended for this moment. The camera work would be difficult. The mother would be going back and forth helping everyone find lost mittens and boots. And really, just a pair of socks can often be the most difficult task.

"Oh dear. Folks, this is not looking good. Did you notice what she forgot to do here? She forgot to ask the 3-year-old if she needed to go potty. That's a real shame. That little one will be back inside in two minutes to do this all over again."

"Looking good from the start. Everyone is in cheerful moods, feeling excited to go and play outside. But oh, now that's not going to be good. The inner lining of the boy's snowpants did not get stretched around the outside of the boot. And that is deep snow out there. One deep step and those pants will rise up and expose his athletic pants to the snow. He's not going to be happy about that."

"Not bad overall. Everyone is outside. Playing. Looking around. The unfortunate thing for this family is that somewhere in that yard are their buried sleds. Yes, they got left out during an overnight snowfall, and those sleds have yet to be found. Which has caused all the children to complain of how boring it is out there, with nothing to do. Poor, poor children."

"Oh what's this? Is that the mother, putting on her own snow pants? Oh now that is above and beyond! A reminder that she is 15 weeks pregnant and already got the 18 months old and 3 year old suited up and out the door. But she's really going for it. Here she is, heading out the door to be greeted by her...oh, shoot, by her sobbing 18 month old who seems to have removed his mittens and stuck his pink hands into the snow. She'll have to head back inside now. But boy, what a nice effort."

Amish Mom

Elsie, age 6, walking into the kitchen, "Mom, let's pretend you're an Amish mom who loves to make a big lunch so that anyone who is hungry and doesn't have enough money to pay for a good meal can come to your house and you will feed them. And how about we are two neighbor girls who come to help you each day get ready for all the people. I'll be Mary and Hattie is Laura." Hattie interjects enthusiastically, "I'm Wawa!" "And Mom, we call you Ma, even though you aren't our actual Ma, but that's what everyone calls you when you're working in the kitchen. And you tell us helpful things we can do."

So I asked if Laura would wipe down the kitchen table and if Mary would wipe down all of the counters. They were so glad and happy. And then Mary asked if they could sweep too.

I told them they were the best help I had ever found and I will gladly spread the word to all the other Amish mothers out there that Laura and Mary are terrific workers if they ever need extra hands.