Tuesday, June 30, 2015

International Mud Day 2015

Yesterday (June 29th) was International Mud Day.


We celebrated this “holiday” a few years ago, but have missed it last couple years because of vacation and our cross-country move.

Trenton and Charlotte have been asking about Mud Day ever since school got out.  Yesterday I packed all three kids up and told them we were going on a hike.  It rained here all day Saturday, so I knew that the trail we were going to would have some good puddles (a friend gave me the tip about which local trail was best for puddles).  We got on the trail and came across a big puddle.  Trenton and Charlotte were trying to go around it, when I sprung some news on them.

“Jump right in!  It’s Mud Day, and I brought extra clothes for you to change into!”

I didn’t have to tell them twice!


I wasn’t sure how Evelyn would like the mud, but she loved splashing around with her big brother and big sister!


I spent yesterday afternoon doing laundry.  All of the mud came out of the dirty clothes!  We also took a break from chores to walk down to the grocery store to grab the ingredients for a muddy treat.  Because what would Mud Day be without some mud pudding?

What is your favorite wacky holiday?  I’m always looking for silly things to celebrate with my kiddos!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Field Trip Friday–Factory Tours

We had plans today of visiting one factory, but we actually wound up visiting two!


Chocolate was our theme of the week.  We read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and watched the movie, made Daddy a chocolate zucchini birthday cake (with zucchini from our garden!), and read books about how chocolate is made.


Wilbur Chocolate Co. in Lititz, Pennsylvania is best known for the Wilbur Bud – a chocolate candy that is very similar to a Hershey Kiss.  Wilbur Buds have been around since 1894.  Milton Hershey started producing Hershey Kisses in 1907.

Anyway, we stepped out of our car in the parking lot across the street from the factory and could immediately smell chocolate in the air.  It was heavenly!  And definitely a much sweeter aroma than last week’s field trip!

The factory itself was a bit of a letdown for the kids.  Because of FDA regulations, we couldn’t go into the actual factory portion of the building.  We were able to see a “museum” with old chocolate making equipment and molds.  There was also a movie about how chocolate was made, but the kids weren’t really interested in that.  We were able to watch a few ladies dipping caramels from behind a glass partition.  On our way back through the gift shop, we sampled Wilbur Buds and also bought some chocolate to bring home.  Of the items we brought home - buds, milk chocolate coins, dark chocolate covered peanut butter ritz cracker sandwiches, and milk chocolate dipped homemade marshmallows – the marshmallows were the unanimous favorite. 


As the kids and I were walking back across the street after leaving the chocolate factory, we spotted a town map.  I saw a pretzel factory on the map not far from where we were, and while we were eating lunch, I looked the place up on my phone.

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery was the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States.  Today they only make soft pretzels for tour goers in the original factory, and make all of the hard pretzels at another site.

The kids were excited that we would get to go on a “real” tour at this place.


We started by becoming certified pretzel twisters.  Again, because of FDA regulations, we weren’t twisting real pretzel dough.  It was just a flour/water dough.  The kids still thought it was fun though.


Except for Evelyn.  She was tired.  And hot (there is no heat or A/C in the building).  And cranky.


We learned how they used to bake pretzels in wood burning ovens.  Trenton’s favorite part was before the pretzels were baked, when they got dipped in “poison” (straw water and lye).  Our tour guide made sure that we all understood that this is NOT how pretzels are made nowadays. 


After learning about the history of pretzel making, we left through the gift shop where I bought a soft pretzel for all of us to share.  Everyone was a fan except Evelyn.

All three kids managed to fall asleep on the way home, so I’d say that it was a pretty successful field trip!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Tooth Fairy’s First Visit

Four months ago I posted a picture of a permanent tooth that had popped out behind one of Trenton’s baby teeth and commented that the tooth fairy would be visiting us soon.

Well the tooth fairy finally made her first appearance in our home last night.  But it wasn’t for Trenton.  That boy has some major shark teeth going on.

It was for Charlotte!


She’s had a loose tooth for a while (and a permanent tooth peeking out from behind the baby tooth), and has been wiggling it constantly trying to work it out.  And yesterday she asked if I could pull it.

Jarrod got me a piece of fishing line, tied me a slip knot, I slipped it over Charlotte’s tooth, tied the other end to the doorknob, and slammed the door.  Nothing.  The string had slipped off her tooth.  I tried again, and the string slipped again.  After trying a third time, I gave up on the door, and just decided to yank the string myself.  And I felt it pull the tooth!  The tooth was still hanging on by a tiny little piece, and I just pulled it out by hand.  Charlotte never even flinched!!!  I couldn’t believe it!  I don’t think Jarrod could either!  He refused to pull it himself (he could stand up to watch the doctors cut me open for my c-section, but the thought of pulling a tooth makes him sick!).  Charlotte didn’t even freak out when I put a paper towel in the spot where her tooth had been and she saw blood.  She is one tough cookie!


Charlotte was so excited!  She couldn’t wait to put her tooth in a bag and stick it under her pillow!


This morning she woke up to a little treat from the tooth fairy. 


Trenton is working hard on getting his super slow baby teeth to loosen up now! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Field Trip Friday - Perrydell Farm Dairy

The kids have been out of school for a couple of weeks now, but with vacation/travel, this was our first Friday at home.

And today we kicked off our summer Field Trip Fridays with a trip to Perrydell Farm Dairy (Free self-guided tour.  They do guided tours for groups of 10 or more.)!

Perrydell Farm Dairy - York, PA

We prepared for our field trip by checking out a few books at the library about dairy cows and dairy farms.  The kids loved hearing about how a cow’s stomach has four different compartments.  But they thought that chewing cud was kind of gross.  We also read about how milk is processed and about all of the different products that are made out of milk.  We did a little taste testing too.  The kids compared whole milk to 1% milk and also tasted plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese.  Charlotte liked everything.  Trenton will stick with his 1% milk.

Field Trip Friday

When we got to the farm this morning, we first visited the bottling area.

Perrydell Farm Dairy - York, PAPerrydell Farm Dairy - York, PA

We saw the workers switch from bottling half gallons to bottling gallon jugs.  We also saw the pasteurizer and the homogenizer which we had learned about in our books.  There was also a big vat for mixing up flavored milks!

Next we went outside and visited the baby calves.

Perrydell Farm Dairy - York, PAPerrydell Farm Dairy - York, PAPerrydell Farm Dairy - York, PAPerrydell Farm Dairy - York, PA

The calf in the top two pictures was just born yesterday and was still a bit wobbly on his feet!

Next was Charlotte’s favorite part – milking a cow.

Perrydell Farm Dairy - York, PA

The real cows weren’t being milked while we were visiting, but we did get to step inside the milking parlor to check it out.  The kids got to see how the hoses attach to pipes, the pipes go across to the next room and take the milk to the cooling tanks, and then there are more pipes taking the cooled milk to the next building over where the pasteurizing, homogenizing, and bottling is done.

We visited the big cows for a little while, but I was afraid that Evelyn would try to make a run for it and dodge under the rope to get a closer look at the cows.

Perrydell Farm Dairy - York, PA

So back to the baby calves it was!  I didn’t think I’d ever be able to tear Evelyn away!  Girlfriend is an animal lover for sure!

Perrydell Farm Dairy - York, PAPerrydell Farm Dairy - York, PAPerrydell Farm Dairy - York, PA

Once I was able to get Evelyn away from the calves, we headed back inside to the store.  We looked at all of the milk products that they make with the milk from the cows on this farm.  The kids were able to tell me the difference between half & half and heavy cream.  They were also able to tell me which of the non-flavored milks in the coolers had the highest fat content.

Then was the fun part.  Ice cream and milk!

It was apparently so good that they all couldn’t look at Mommy and smile at the same time!

Perrydell Farm Dairy - York, PA

Evelyn fell asleep on the way home, but Trenton and Charlotte talked about cows the whole time we were in the car (FYI Daddy – they want some of their own!).  I’d say that it was a successful Field Trip Friday!  Now I’ve got to figure out what we’re doing next week!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Texas Recap


I wasn’t really sure how to write this post.  We returned to Pennsylvania from Texas yesterday evening (just before things got really bad back home with Tropical Storm Bill).  And while we always have a good time in Texas, this trip was not what we expected.

Evelyn and I got to Texas on Monday.  Trenton and Charlotte had already been there a week staying with my parents.  We had a pretty low key Monday, going to have dinner with my WaWa and spending the rest of our time recovering from our flight.

My mom and I took the kids bowling on Tuesday, and my Aunt Carol met us at the bowling alley for lunch.  After lunch, she went on her way to a dentist appointment while we made a trip to the library.


  Tuesday evening we went out for snow-cones, and then Aunt Courtney came by to visit and check cows.  I put the kids in bed soon after she left, and as I walked out of their room, my mom had just gotten off the phone and told me that she and my dad were in a rush to get to Victoria to be with my Aunt Carol.  Her husband had just died of a sudden massive heart attack.  They were in shock, I was in shock, pretty much everyone was in shock.

Wednesday morning I had to tell the kids that Uncle Scottie had died.  Trenton immediately started crying.  Charlotte was shocked.  Trenton (and Charlotte too to some extent) had a lot of questions.  Some, I had trouble with.  After I initially told the kids, they didn’t want to talk about it a whole lot.  Trenton became very cuddly and started giving me kisses again (he had been “too old for that” since the fall).  I know that Uncle Scottie’s sudden death was really hard on them.  They loved him and always had such a fun time with him. 

We laid pretty low for the rest of the week.  Jarrod flew in Friday.  Saturday was the funeral.  It was the first funeral my kids had attended.  They did pretty good, and I think that it was good for them to be there and get a better understanding of what happens after we die.

Saturday was a very busy day.  After the funeral we came back to my parents house, rested a bit, changed clothes, and headed to my cousin’s (opposite side of the family) wedding reception.  After a hard few days, it was nice to have some fun and catch up with more family and friends.


The remainder of our time in Texas was spent with family making fun memories.  My kids had to learn some hard life lessons, but they also had a lot of fun too.  It’s hard living far from family, but we always try to make the most of our time with them.  The kids are already asking when we can visit again! 


Monday, June 8, 2015

We Survived!

Evelyn and I flew back to Texas today.  She was excited about our flight!


Our flight was during Evelyn’s normal lunchtime and naptime.  I grabbed us a wrap to share before we got on our flight, and had plenty of snacks packed for while we were in the air.  I was really hoping that Evelyn would nap.

And she did.


But not until 10 minutes before we landed….

The rest of her time was spent going back and forth between my lap and the empty seat between me and the aisle seat, eating a few snacks and then trying to throw a few on the floor, listening to one page of a book before wanting to switch to a new book, and playing with stickers.  I also brought along my iPad and put an Elmo pet movie on it.  I tried letting her watch it, but she didn’t want to wear headphones, and she kept touching and swiping the screen.  So that didn’t work out too well.  Thankfully she was not too loud.  This Mommy was worn out though.  I had a headache and started feeling nauseous a few times too.  A slightly bumpy ride in a few spots didn’t help much either.

We made it to Texas though and are happy to be here!  But Daddy gets to deal with this little lady on the way home!  Mommy will be in charge of the big kids!  

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Day in the Big Apple

Before yesterday, I had never been to New York City.  I’ve been wanting to get there ever since we moved here (it’s about 3 hours away from us), but it’s just never worked out.

Well, Jarrod has leave to burn before the new fiscal year, and Trenton and Charlotte are in Texas with Mimi and Pops, so that left us the perfect opportunity to get to the city for a day.

Day Trip to New York City

Our original plan was to drive up early yesterday morning and drive back home yesterday evening.  But I decided to call the Navy Lodge on Staten Island Wednesday afternoon around 2:00 to see if they had any last minute room availability.  And they did!  At $106 (no tax), we couldn’t pass it up!  So I packed up a bag, asked a neighbor to feed Bailey and let him out, and Evelyn were on our way to grab Jarrod from work.

The drive to Staten Island wasn’t bad at all.  Except the tolls and the construction just as we were getting to our exit.  Because of construction, we missed our exit, had to cross the Verranzano-Narrows Bridge to get turned around, and then had to pay a $16 toll to cross the bridge coming back onto Staten Island.  Talk about an expensive mistake!

Anyway, our room on Staten Island was great!  The Navy Lodge has recently been remodeled, and other than a little girl who DID NOT want to sleep, our overnight stay was really good.

Yesterday morning, we got up, ate breakfast at the lodge, and then drove to the Staten Island Ferry.  Parking is $8 for the day, and the ferry ride over to Manhattan is free.  We loved riding in on the ferry.  We got a great view of the city, and went right past the Statue of Liberty. 

Day Trip to New York City
Day Trip to New York City

The ferry dropped us off and we took the subway to the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial and Museum (we could have actually walked, but we didn’t realize it at the time).  This was the big reason that I wanted to go to NYC without Trenton and Charlotte.  I wanted to see the memorial and museum, but I didn’t want to have to explain 9/11 to the kids.

Day Trip to New York City 

And I’m glad that we made that decision.  The museum is not for kids – unless they are at an age that they will sleep through everything.

I was completely overwhelmed with emotion.  The museum is already a lot to handle, but having pregnancy hormones on top of that – I couldn’t make it through the whole museum.

Day Trip to New York City
Day Trip to New York CityDay Trip to New York City

Jarrod asked me after we left the museum, what stuck out to me the most.  Seeing all of the recovered artifacts, the mangled steel beams, the pictures of those that died was all so moving.  But what stuck out the most for me was something that I read right after we got inside the museum.  One-third of the world’s population watched the attacks happen.  Once that first plane hit the World Trade Center, one-third of the people in this world were watching their televisions as the other attacks happened.  Not one-third of American residents.  Not one-third of people who owned televisions.  One-third of all people in the WHOLE WORLD.  This was before social media was a big thing.  It was before everyone walked around with smart phones.  To me, that piece of information was just astonishing.

From the museum, we walked past the new World Trade Center Freedom Tower, where the line was crazy long.  Instead of waiting in line to go inside and check it out, we instead decided to find a place to eat since it was already past our normal lunch time.

Day Trip to New York City

I knew that I wanted to eat New York pizza.  The first few places my Yelp app took us to were “order at the counter and stand up to eat your pizza” type places.  That really wasn’t going to work for a family with a 16 month old.  So I redid my search for “pizza sit-down” and off we went to a pizza/Italian restaurant (Harry’s Italian).  And the pizza did not disappoint!

Day Trip to New York City

Oh, and our server also brought us a free cannoli for us to share!  Complete with a little bitty spoon for Evelyn!

Speaking of Evelyn – she had a lot of fans in NYC.  She even got a free gift from Tiffany & Co!

Day Trip to New York City

We also made stops at Trinity Church, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Charging Bull.

Day Trip to New York City

Day Trip to New York CityDay Trip to New York City
Day Trip to New York City

We went into the city without much of a plan other than seeing the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  It was nice not being on a strict schedule and just stopping to see anything that we saw that interested us.  One of our favorite stops that we just happened upon was Federal Hall.

Day Trip to New York City

Federal Hall is where George Washington took the oath of office when he became the first President of the United States.  It is also served as the United State Capitol Building until the capital was moved to Philadelphia in 1790.  It was pretty amazing to see the slab that George Washington stood on for his inauguration along with the Bible that he took his inaugural oath on.

Day Trip to New York CityDay Trip to New York City

And that was our day in New York City.  We caught the 5:15 ferry back to Staten Island (along with everyone who was going home from work), grabbed our car, and got on the road headed home.  We had a great time in the city, and are hoping to get back later this summer with all of the kids.  So if you have any suggestions on family-friendly NYC, let me know!