Retreat

Despite the grey, drab day, my girls and I were teeming with excitement last Wednesday as we slowly drove down Rockton Road, where the path before us turned from asphalt to crunchy limestone gravel beneath our tires.  We knew we were nearing our destination.

Coming into focus on our right was the farm that we visited many times in the past.  That wonderful place where naturally and ethically grown produce and animals thrive, and people aid in that growth with so much vibrancy and respect for Earth and what she provides for us that it is truly inspiring.

But this was not our final destination this afternoon.  Today we were venturing to a new space on the property of Angelic Organics.  Today we were lucky enough to visit the new Angelic Organics Lodge, nestled on the north side of Rockton Road on a gorgeous limestone bluff.

This space was beyond what I envisioned.  We walked through the entrance of this newly renovated space and quickly found ourselves standing on a deck overlooking an expansive oak savannah.  A muskrat scurried into the bend of Kinnikinnick Creek that lay before us, and we could hear nothing but the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, and the birds chirping happily in anticipation of warm spring weather soon to come.  The quiet of this space was so pleasantly overwhelming.  Such a change from the busy sounds of the city that we are often engulfed by on a daily basis.

Inside the walls of the lodge itself were lovely bunk rooms, a commercial kitchen, and a stunning dining hall that boasted a gorgeous stone fireplace.  And perhaps my favorite part of this building was the floors.  The flooring was made with craft paper, glue, water and then sealed with a water-based finish.  It was simply stunning!

This summer the lodge will be the home of Angelic Organics Learning Center’s Overnight Farm Camp, but the best part is, this space is not just for kids!  The lodge will host family weekends, adult farm camp, and even a weekend wellness retreat, complete with farm yoga.  Yes, please!

And if seeing the new lodge was not enough, our afternoon concluded with a chance to see baby goats, newly birthed on the farm.  And not just see them, but hold them, snuggle them and just love on them for quite some time.  It was the absolute best!

I invite all of you to check out the Angelic Organics Learning Center website for more information about all of their amazing programs.  The staff there is beyond words, and they are so helpful in answering any questions you may have about their workshops, camps, and more.  We are so blessed to have a space such as this in our area!

The Most Amazing News

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Oh friends, I just received the most amazing news.  My favorite blogger/author, Amanda Blake Soule, will be featuring my garden photos and writing on her blog tomorrow.  I invite you to check out the post tomorrow (Friday, July 22) at www.soulemama.com.

I am completely overcome with excitement and gratitude at being given this wonderful opportunity to share with those around the world, what wonderful things are going on right here in Rockford, Illinois.  A true blessing indeed.

And, this news does not come on any random day either.  Today we celebrate my mom’s birthday.  If this is not a true sign of a guardian angel mama always looking out for her babies, I don’t know what is.  You always told me to keep writing, Mom.  And I have been.  Just for you.

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Can You Feel It?

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The chill in the air has finally dissipated, and the sun remains hanging in the sky a bit longer these days.  Can you feel it?  I do believe that summer may just be right around the corner.  After those strange May evenings dipping to freezing temperatures here in Illinois, and sadly losing some of my plants despite the fact that they were covered, I am so thrilled to see the mercury rise into the seventies and eighties.

Our garden seems to be loving these temperatures and this week’s sunshine just as much as we do, and we have wasted no time getting out there and digging in, in the most full and present way we can.  Yes.  Finally.

{A side note:  The pictures in this post are very special for two reasons…#1:  My camera broke last week.  Yes, broke.  I was beside myself.  Then my friend Jodi came to my rescue, and loaned me her fabulous camera.  She is amazing.  Thank you, thank you! #2:  I have been afraid of heights for as long as I can remember.  I am talking palm-sweating-heart-racing-paralyzing fear.  But this week, while my husband was away for work (he is normally my “aerial” photographer), I desperately wanted overhead shots of my garden.  So, I mustered up all the courage I had, climbed onto the top of my shed, and took these pictures.  I. Did. It.}

The River

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“I stood like one bewitched.  I drank it in, in a speechless rapture.”

Mark Twain

My girls and I had a bit of time before a class at our city’s wonderful children’s museum last week, so we decided to pack some goodies and enjoy our morning breakfast by the river.  It was a perfectly beautiful, still day and with the sun rising over the river, we could not have asked for a better way to spend those first few minutes of our day.

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Although the area of the river on which we stood is very much urban, we couldn’t help but be filled with a sense of the power this river, this natural entity before us.  Despite all of human being’s efforts to control the area surrounding this river, it continues rushing through, commanding control.  It left us with a feeling of such awe deep within the pits of our stomachs as we stood there watching the currents run beneath our feet.  Mother Nature and her wonders are truly at play here.  And so we stood, anchored to our spot, looking out over God’s great wonder: the river.

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Kicking Things Off

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It’s official.  The school garden at The Cathedral of St. Peter School is fully under way!  Sunday afternoon, we hosted a School Garden Kick-Off Festival where students and their families were able to peruse the garden space, take a look at our fabulous garden sign (hand-crafted by my father-in-law and decorated by the students of St. Peters), and visit with some very special guests.

We were so very fortunate to be joined on Sunday by Father Beekman, who blessed the garden space; Andrea Hazzard of Hazzard Free Farm spoke with families about growing and cooking with grains; Dick Zander of Zander Nursery met with students and their parents to discuss how to grow the best tomatoes in town; and Chef Paul Sletten of Abreo and Social visited with guests to discuss cooking with fresh produce.  It was truly a wonderful afternoon.  The weather could not have been more beautiful, and we were so thankful for all of the families who came out to help ring in this exciting new program for our school.

The entire day left me feeling a great sense of gratitude for all the Earth provides, and how her beauty and bounty can truly bring people together for the greater good.  I cannot wait to see what wonderful adventures await the students of St. Peters as we venture forth with this new endeavor.

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Join Me

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If you are looking for something to do this evening, join me at the Rockford Holistic Moms Network Meeting tonight at Just Goods in Rockford at 7 PM.  I will be presenting at tonight’s meeting, and I would love to see some of you there!  At tonight’s meeting, I will be discussing the ways in which my family has tried to create a “Suburban Homestead” of sorts, and how we try to create a means of food security for our family. It is sure to be a wonderful night.  For more detailed information, visit our chapter Facebook page.

Holistic Moms Network is “a non-profit organization connecting parents who are interested in holistic health and green living. We encourage moms to trust their instincts, parent from the heart, use their innate sense of what is best for their children, live in balance with the Earth, and learn about the pros and cons of all healthcare and parenting options.

No matter where you are on your parenting or holistic living journey, you are welcome at HMN!   We are a diverse and open-minded community, a place where your choices are respected and where you can learn and become informed! “

I hope to see you there!

Walk With Us

This afternoon, the girls and I went for a hike in one of our favorite places in Rockford.  Come along with us through this beautiful haven in the middle of our city…

School Garden

From the very moment my two little girls entered this world, I instantly began worrying about their schooling.  I’m not sure why these thoughts consume me so.  Maybe it is my teacher-self knowing the importance of education.  Or maybe it is the fact that Twain’s “never let school interfere with your education” seems to beat a constant drum in my head.  But no matter the reason, schooling has, and I think will always be, on my mind.

When my eldest little baby ventured off to kindergarten this year, I felt apprehension in my heart and an uneasiness in the pit of my stomach, wondering if I made the correct choice in her schooling endeavors.  It is now that we are in entering our third month of school that I am fully confident that my husband and I have not only made a good choice, but one that has allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief.

My husband and I both have a background in education, so we have always been fairly confident we would be able to supplement academically where our girls may need extra assistance when it comes to their education.  But with family and faith as our top priorities in life, we searched our large city a great deal to find a place where these two aspects of life were not only mentioned, but highlighted and emphasized as being of paramount importance in life.

We found that place in the school that our daughter attends.  It is a place where love and respect for your neighbor is taught and encouraged.  A place where prayer has not vanished, as it has in so many other aspects of our culture.  A place where my daughter not only feels safe, but feels loved and accepted by her fellow peers, the teachers, secretary and principal.  A place of family and faith.

{One possible spot for our new school garden!}

And now a place that emphasizes the importance of being stewards to the earth and caring for God’s creation that He has set before us.  Yes, we have been granted full permission and support to start a school garden!

It is impossible for me to express in words the absolute outpouring of support I have witnessed since first mentioning this project only one month ago.  Over the course of the past few weeks, I have seen a group of adults go above and beyond their call of duty to do what they think is best for kids.  It is truly wonderful and awe-inspiring to be a part of.

And so we begin another new adventure in faith, family…and gardening!  What could be better 🙂  If any of you have experience in working with school or community gardens, please feel free to pass along advice in the comment section of this post.  I will be sure to keep you all updated with the progress of this very exciting project!