Farm + Camp = Best Summer Ever

Farm Camp Summer 2015

Farm Camp Summer 2015

Every summer I sign up my kids for camp. They’ve done hockey camp, horse camp, art camp, clay camp, theater camp, cooking camp, and camping camp. This summer, I packed them off to farm camp at Angelic Organics. I signed up through the Rock Valley College Whiz Kids Program which made the camp more affordable for us. Only then did I realize I’d committed myself to a 50 minute drive there and back, twice a day, every day, for fifteen days. Since chauffeuring is not my favorite summer activity, I wasn’t sure I’d made the best choice. I’m taxi-mama during the school year after all!

Once camp started I completely changed my mind. My daughters started teaching me about sustainable, organic farming. Plus they learned new skills, like how to:

  • milk goats
  • make butter and ice-cream
  • hold a chicken
  • collect eggs
  • clean coops
  • bake zucchini bread
  • feed livestock
  • can pickles
  • groom a horse
  • water the cows
  • harvest vegetables

They came home smelling like they’d rolled in manure all day, their clothes covered in everything from chicken pee to horse slobber. In short: they had the time of their lives.

Goats love to eat burdock.

Goats love to eat burdock.

Kids love to hold chickens.

Kids love to hold chickens.

The best part? They went to bed early and exhausted.

The drive? Well that’s what audio books are for.


Seeing Myself Through My Daughter’s Eyes

dreamstimefree_269702smMother’s Day was a couple weeks ago. Since that day also happens to correspond with my end of the semester grading frenzy, I didn’t get a chance before now to post this lovely poem that my 12-year-old daughter wrote for me:

a business teacher
a pitch perfect singer
a writer of astonishing books that I love to read
a cook of marvelous foods
AND she cleans like a pro

a helper with homework
a stay up late worker
She is head shopper for birthdays, Christmas presents and other stuff

is patient (ish)
and cool (ish)

But the best thing about my mom is that she loves me
that’s the best
I could get.


Yeah, I cried.

Photograph © Mamz

No More On The WaterFront? Go to the DeKalb CornFest Instead

DeKalb, IL Corn Festival, August 2014

DeKalb, IL Corn Festival, August 2014

So every year, labor day weekend, I used to go to the On the Waterfront Festival in Rockford, IL. It was practically in my backyard, had great music, and plenty of action for the kiddies. On the Waterfront = Family Fun Time. I even wrote about it here a couple years back as an example of What’s To Like About Rockford.

Last year, after 29 years, the city of Rockford cancelled On the Waterfront.

Since I do try to make an effort to keep my blog upbeat and positive, I won’t discuss how politics, management, and lack of vision had a role in this historic festival’s demise. A festival that brought millions of dollars into our community. Or how Instead of scaling the festival back to something more reasonable for the economic times, those in charge kept it too huge to support itself. Nope, not gonna go there.

Instead, I took my family, and my money, and went to DeKalb for Labor Day Weekend.

The Corn Festival in DeKalb, IL, (a less than 30 minute drive from Rockford) is one of the last remaining free music festivals in Illinois and has been around since 1977. Musicians such as Lady Antebellum, Joan Jett, Survior, Night Ranger, Blue Oyster Cult, .38 Special, The Marshall Tucker Band,Jefferson Starship, The Smithereens, and Eddie Money have performed there over the years.

The kids like the carnival rides, the kids activities, and the rummage sales. My daughter brought home an embellished jewelry box she found for $1.00 and was to-the-moon happy about her find. It’s also cool to see the historic Egyptian Theatre (picture above) which is said to be haunted and was investigated by paranormal researchers a few years back.

And of course, there’s plenty of corn at the Corn Festival. As well as other carnival food I was not brave enough to try, but I took a picture of the signage, because, you know, seeing is believing.

Chocolate-Covered Bacon, DeKalb IL, Corn Festival 2014

Chocolate-Covered Bacon, DeKalb IL, Corn Festival 2014

Who knew bacon dipped in chocolate was a Greek thing, right? Can you feel your arteries clog just thinking about it?

So until Rockford gets its act together, if you’re looking for something to do next labor day weekend, the DeKalb Corn Fest is a great place to spend a day or two.