Thursday, July 31, 2014


Camp got off to a rough start today with a total lack of camper enthusiasm (except our senior camper who is always game for my adventures). The start of the day was delayed to allow for extra laying around doing nothing time, yet still we encountered resistance. We chose our activities in the hopes of coaxing the girl camper out of her lair, but she admirably resisted our efforts in favor of completing her summer course work (how can a mother argue with that?). After a long yes-I’m-coming, no-I’m-not agony, my two most faithful campers got on board and we set off for the Central Market in downtown York.

We snagged an excellent parking spot with 47 minutes left on the meter and considered that a good omen. Our first stop was Cherie Anne’s Designs where we purchased refreshing smoothies and iced tea and visited with some of my favorite downtown personalities. Next we stopped in Kimman’s gift shop after spotting an amazing $589 cooler that looked like a VW Bus. The price tags were much too rich for us, but we enjoyed reading the clever signs – “Inside every old person is a young person wondering what the hell happened.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


We were up and out early for our big day at camp. Today’s schedule lured in two more resident campers despite the fact that revelry sounded before noon. We set off for the city of Baltimore at 9:30am. While I had hoped for lively conversation en route, three out of four campers were otherwise occupied with ear buds and/or books. Undeterred, my most faithful camper kept me entertained and helped navigate.

One of the reasons I love the Walters Art Gallery is that it’s free. The other reason is that I always find a parking place right out front – and today was no exception. There was even 47 minutes left on the meter! As we entered the museum I challenged the campers to find the weirdest thing and the funniest thing in the museum. One brother immediately tagged the other and said, “Found it!” Too early for that kind of humor apparently.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Today’s camp started with wild raspberry picking! The camper who grumbled the most about the adventure actually beat all the other campers up the hill to the raspberry patch on the side of the neighbor’s soybean field and out-ate the rest of us. I’d had plans to scout out some other local raspberries, but yesterday on our way home from geocaching we spied a group of Amish teenagers combing our road for berries. Alas, we had to be satisfied with our small find.

We spent the rest of the morning continuing work on our craft projects. Some campers have begun additional projects and late this afternoon the craft table caught the eye of a camper who has ignored all our other activities.

After lunch a new camper joined us for a stream hike/swim/wade/run/splash/slip! One of our older campers tagged along on shore and captured much of the action. Here's a picture play-by-play -

Monday, July 28, 2014


Day one began with one excited camper up early and one not-so-enthusiastic camper who only perked up mildly after French toast with blueberry syrup. The other potential campers could not be roused from their bunks. The camp director was undeterred. We packed a delicious lunch and headed off on our first morning of camp- geocaching! (If you’re unfamiliar with geocaching, click here.)

Our first cache was a bust. The navigation led us to a small cemetery. The cache appeared to have been hidden near a maintenance shed directly under a fresh load of dirt and rocks that were presumably delivered this week.

Disappointed but not discouraged, we set off on cache #2 which was also to be found in a cemetery.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

CAMP ACHTERBERG! (Do-it-Yourself-Day-Camp)

It’s CAMP ACHTERBERG week! I’ll be updating the blog on a daily basis with pictures and stories of our adventures.

Just in case you don’t know, Camp Achterberg happens for one week every summer. It began back when my kids were relatively young (3, 6 and 9) and I realized that I couldn’t afford to send my kids to more than one week of camp without seriously endangering the family budget. And without camp my children might DRIVE ME NUTS. When I looked at what many of the camps were doing, I thought – “Hey, we don’t need a camp to do that, we can do that!”

Over the years, Camp Achterberg has included streamhikes, special foods, visits with animals, museum tours, factory tours, berry picking, movie watching, swimming, campfires, hiking, and even crafts. Most days are spent outdoors, but we always have a rainy day plan (movies, used book store, arts & crafts, cooking, museums, board games). Camp activities change every year. I’m excited about a few new activities this year like kayaking!

Some of the activities do come with a price tag, but I figure I’m saving so much on camp fees I can afford to spend a little this week. In year’s past I bought special craft supplies and maybe a little too much ice cream. This year’s camp includes a trip to a mega book store, so I’m sure my rubber arm will be twisted into buying a few books. We also have a museum visit scheduled, at least two lunches out, plus we’ll have to rent our kayaks. Even with those expenses, I know this camp is the best bargain in town.

My kids are older now and the only guaranteed camper is my youngest who is 12. As it happens, we have a special guest camper this week – my mother-in-law, “Nana.” The older two kids have the option to join in Camp Achterberg on the days it appeals, and to provide a little incentive, I’m restricting the wifi during camp hours. We shall see what happens.

Follow along with us on the blog this week or, better yet, create your own camp and share your adventures, too! Haven’t your kids seen enough Netflix and logged enough computer time for the summer? It’s time to get your inner-camp director on.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Homemade Chicken Nuggets and Breaded Mozarella Sticks! Yes, You Can!

Just what is in a chicken nugget? A lot more than chicken that’s for sure. Recently I made the colossal mistake of taking a child with me to the grocery store. Somehow I allowed myself to be talked into not only a box of frozen chicken nuggets, but another of frozen mozzarella sticks. When we arrived home with our loot, both boxes were gone within the hour and two of my children were asking, “Why can’t you buy these all the time?” They were not happy with my lengthy answer that included reciting the ingredients list on the side of the nugget box.

Contrary to popular local lore, I am not the meanest mom in the world. I did feel a twinge of guilt when I looked into their sad faces. Not enough guilt to land those nuggets in my shopping cart again, but enough guilt to launch a search for a recipe for homemade chicken nuggets that actually tasted like the nuggets of their affection but was also good for them. This inspired me to search further and find a recipe for mozzarella sticks (The greasy, breaded kind my kids order at restaurants and fill up on before their meal arrives, not the plain kind that come in those wrappers that require reading glasses and non-guitar-playing fingernails to open.).

I located two excellent recipes on the website Weelicious and with a few modifications I’m happy with the version I whipped up last night to the delight of my diners! The coolest part is that I was able to make triple batches and freeze the extra nuggets and cheesesticks for future meals that the kids can fix themselves.

Want to know how I did it? Here you go –

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Under Seige from Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles are killing me. Well, actually, they’re not killing me, but they are killing many lives that I hold dear. 

The cherry tree that survived the attack of rust two years ago that killed the other cherry trees is covered in skeletalized leaves. The nectarine tree is covered in beetles boring into the fruit and causing them to shrivel and ooze juice. The grapes are putting up a valiant fight, growing new shiney lime green leaves to replace the ones destroyed by the beetles only to lose those new leaves within days. 

Even the asparagus is covered in the nasty creatures. I’ve never seen them go after asparagus before and if they kill mine I just may hang up my shovel and go buy a condominium. What is there to do?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What Is Our Tipping Point?

What does it take to make us believe? This is a question I ponder on many levels, in many areas of my life. What makes us believe something we read or see or hear? Why are we skeptical of one statement and not another? Is it a gut thing? Or a heart thing? I think maybe it’s a trust thing.

I need to trust the source from which the information comes. I don’t trust Fox News, pretty much any politician, the check-out clerk at Wal-Mart, or the passionate volunteer on the phone. I don’t trust the crazy right-wing driven blogs or the looney-tunes left-wing e-newsletter. In fact, most times I don’t trust information I’m given until I’ve poked and prodded and tested it myself.

We have an electric fence in our horse pasture. I tell all the kids who visit that it will shock them, but there are always those who must find out first hand.I remember touching fences myself when I was a child. I’d lay a long piece of grass to the wire and listen close. I’d hear that little zzzzpt and know that, yup, it’s hot.

Eight years ago, when my youngest child developed an autoimmune disorder seemingly out of the blue, my world shifted. My heart cracked wide open and my beliefs about what was safe and good and healthy all became suspect. Life seemed more fragile. Almost overnight I saw the world and our food supply in a completely new way. I didn’t trust anything that came in a package or out a drive-thru window. My motivation grew out of a desperation and pain that was all new to me. I would do anything to heal my child. I entertained all manner of wacko experts and obscure studies and stifled my skeptical soul. But sometimes the information I gathered made sense.