Wednesday, December 28, 2011

ECHO farm fun

There is an incredibly cool farm with an awesome mission about 30 minutes north of where we stay in Florida. Since it's so close to us we've always wanted to visit it, take a tour, and buy some fruit trees for the backyard. 

We figured what better time to go than with a 3-year old, 22-month old, and newborn?! Right...While our timing could have been better with the kids' ages, we are still very glad that we visited and took their 60-minute tour.

ECHO is a creative working farm with six Global Farm simulated settings. They test new and innovative techniques for farmers and urban gardeners in third world countries, helping to diminish hunger and poverty. They let us taste leaves and berries while exploring rain-forest habitats, visiting their fun farm animals, and taking a rest in at a simulated Haitian school. Cutie Face could not get enough of the cranberry hyacinth plant and kept going back to it--we will definitely buy one for our house! The animals were the highlight of the tour for Cutie Cakes--she kept making goat sounds and hopping for the bunnies. 

My highlight? Showing the Cuties broccoli in the ground! They were so curious about it--I loved that they were able to see how their favorite veggie grows.

As a Christian organization, ECHO's motto is Honoring God through Sustainable Hunger Solutions. They hire 10 interns every year who are either college graduates or masters/PhD students and who will, one day, go out onto the mission field and bring their innovative initiatives to third world countries. It's so inspiring to see it in action! Here is our tour guide showing new ways of pumping water for drinking (on the left) and pumping waters into specific planters. Very cool!

The newest Cutie (blog moniker yet to be determined) took it all in but wasn't too happy about it--she needed rocking, holding, or nursing to get through the 60-minute tour but then turned on the smiles as soon as we were done. I knew she'd be a spunky one! 

The big Cuties were also a little feisty but definitely earned their honey stick treats at the end of the tour for being patient and good listeners! I just can't wait to take them back in three years or so when they can really appreciate how wonderful ECHO farm is! Until then...we'll just be back to buy plants!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ornamental Cutie

This is what happens when:

1) mommy gets a new camera
2) daddy gets to implement his creative ideas


3) we have a willing subject 
(or at least one who doesn't object strongly to manipulative poses!)


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Festive Lights, Holiday Sights

Do you seek out Christmas lights and gaudy Christmas decor on neighboring streets? When we run during the Christmas season, the girls and I love to stop and ooh and ahh over crazy inflatable displays that seem to cover every square inch of a neighbor's lawn. We've even taken a few night runs just to see the 'hood lit up with blinking multi-color, icicle-hanging, 1000-strand lights. It's safe to say that our family is definitely taken by the "fairy lights" (as they say in the UK).

The girls got their light fix in one fell swoop when we visited Flesher Farms in Bonita Springs. TWO MILLION lights set the sky aglow and have been doing so for nearly 25 consecutive years! The twin and I visited when we were kiddos and now we're carrying on the tradition with our families.

The varying lights and dozens of lit animals and inflatable displays definitely kept the kids' attention.

Cutie Cakes was most taken by this random but hilarious one--with Santa popping in and out of an outhouse while an elf stands by and chuckles embarrassingly. Random, right? but it moves and it involves a potty, two things that capture a potty-trained toddler's attention, i suppose

I am glad they had the nativity scene near the entrance. Jesus is the Light of the World so all the lights  at Flesher Farms can be viewed as a testament to how effective one little light for Jesus is when it stands with so many others.

May our family shine bright for our Savior in 2012!