Monday, November 24, 2014

Zoo Lights

We made the trek to Columbus Zoo to see the zoo lights on Thursday night.  It was hit or miss weather wise.  I think we picked a decent (a little cold) night.  At least it wasn’t blowing wind 100 mph or raining or in the teens.  We left after preschool. 

(On a side note: Jeremy was chosen by Madison to be helper at preschool this time.  I think he was a little intimidated by being surrounded by 19 preschoolers.  Apparently, he had a good time.  His station/main job was to help at the ice cube and tong table.  I do believe it was quite an honor that Madison chose him – he is the first dad this year from her class to come, and the second guy – a grandpa came on Tuesday.  I think that is awesome!)

The girls got a little antsy on the way down.  I don’t think they realized it was a longer trip.  When we got there, we ate at Culver’s.  I really like the hamburger’s there.  I figured we needed a break from Wendy’s, so this was the most similar, but most unique choice; I say “unique” because there aren’t any up by us.  The girls enjoyed it.  They have a coupon for a free scoop of frozen custard that we didn’t have time to redeem.  Eating with the girls at restaurants can be a test of patience.  They are not bad, just distracted more easily, so it takes sooo long to eat. 

We moved on to the zoo around 6:30.  Upon arriving, we stuffed them into extra sweatshirts, snow pants, hats, gloves, scarves, and winter boots.  They hardly fit into the stroller!  (Don’t worry, they were more excited than Madison’s expression indicates!)

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The lights were pretty cool.  I would have liked to stay here by the lake to watch the lights in coordination with the music, but the girls were more interested in going to see animals. 

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We headed to the polar bears – didn’t see them.  Instead, we played “Which bear are you close to in height?”  We did see the brown bears in their “cave” and the artic foxes with their white coats. 

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We headed into see the reptiles next.  Ellie was very excited to see all the snakes.  I think she has a heightened interest since her cousin, Sam, just got one for his birthday.  Ellie and Madison both touched the snake the zoo helpers had. 

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Then, it was on to the aquarium.  The fish are always pretty amazing – and that night it was nice to be in the warmth of the building.  Next, we headed to the carousel.  For $1 a person (adults ride free with a child), it is the best deal in the zoo.  The girls loved this part. 

We finished with penguins, elephants, rhinos, and flying foxes.  It was a good night.

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The girls slept on the way home.  We made it just past Ashland when it started snowing light fluffy snow.  The roads were covered to the point where you couldn’t see the lane lines.  And semi trucks would pass and produce white-out conditions for those behind them.  It was slow going the last 40 miles or so.  I fell into bed around 11:30. 

We ended up buying a zoo membership, so we will be going down again some time.  I am excited because I love the zoo.

Monday, November 17, 2014

First Snow

Before I get to the excitement of today, I am going to backtrack a few days.  Last week was good – normal.  I subbed on Monday.  The Yohs had the girls, and as always, treated them to a fun day.  They had won/received tickets for the train at Lodi Outlets from a weekend event they had attended.  The girls rode the train!  They also ate ice cream, went shopping, and rode the train, again!  They were non-stop talkers about it when we got in the van to come home.  Thanks for the memories, Grandma and Papa!

This weekend Luke and I took the youth to camp at Camp Luz.  This went against the tradition of going to Camp Friendenswald in January.  That camp is in Michigan and about 5-6 hours away and (almost) always has snow.  Camp Luz is basically in our backyard and is (obviously) in November and (I assume) rarely has snow.  They are two different experiences, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  To be honest, I was dreading it just a little.  That is usually how it is for me with new things though.  And although I had been to camp as a youth, I had not been as a sponsor or in a really long time.  It ended up being a blast for all of us!  The camp kept us busy with worship (thanks, Bluffton University for that!), group games, activity times, meals/snacks, and more.  We were up until at least midnight Friday and Saturday night.  (I am still recovering…. may be recovering all week from that) 

I think the highlight for everyone was square dancing on Friday.  Yep, square dancing!  It. was. awesome.  It kept kids (and sponsors) warm because we were always moving.  It forced interaction between all ages and genders.  And it leveled the playing field because everyone was a bit awkward.  I am sore today – not only because of square dancing, but it does hold at least half of the blame.

The theme was “Defined by Grace.”  We talked about how God’s grace should define us.  We listened to stories of grace, shared with one another during devotional times, and were challenged to extend grace to those around us.  Ephesians 2:8-10 were the key verses.  It reads, 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

How awesome is that!  We placed a letter B on our hands to remind us that we are God’s beloved – His handiwork… workmanship… masterpiece!  Awesome.

We returned the kids back to the church by 11;45 on Sunday.  They had homework to do, sleep to catch up on, and stories to share.  The good news….

There was a snow day today, so they all had an extra long time to do all those things!

Yep, snow, and not just a dusting.  The girls burst into our room at 7 on the dot screaming, “It’s snowing!  It’s snowing!” 

(I just wanted to burrow in the covers a little further.  Jeremy let me.  What a husband!)

Needless to say, by 8:30 we were bundling up and heading outside to play in the snow.  It was so nice – 32F, not much breeze, and heavy, wet snow.

First thing – a picture.  Can they seriously get any cuter?

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Second thing – snow angels

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Third thing – attempt a snow man

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Fourth thing – get distracted by the amazing snow on the clothesline and trees.

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Fifth thing – sledding.  We started on our small hill.  Then we headed to a stand alone hill across Lehman’s parking lot.  Although not much bigger, it was a little step up.  It was a blast.  (Sorry, no pics for this one.  The snow was still coming down, and I didn’t want to leave my camera out in it.)

Hope everyone stayed safe this morning, and those who were able to enjoy a day home with kids enjoyed the time.  Until next week….

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Getaway and Friends

A few weekends ago, Sandy texted me to suggest that I “be spontaneous.”  While she thinks this impossible, and while I agree that I like to know what is happening, I have learned that I do enjoy to just pick up and go… especially now that my life with kids makes that feel nearly impossible.  (You know the saying, “You want what you can’t have.”)  Her spontaneous suggestion included leaving about 3 hours after the aforementioned text to go on an overnight trip to our old stomping grounds, Bluffton College University, and stay in a stone cottage I have adored since first walking by it.  It used to be private property; the university has since acquired it, kept it (mostly) the same, and used it as offices and one guest room.  Jeremy had a planned hunting outing with a friend he hadn’t seen for awhile early Saturday morning, so plans for the night needed to be made.  Jen generously agreed to have Madison for a sleepover and my parents graciously allowed Ellie to infringe on their otherwise quiet Friday night, and the trip was a go. 

The stone cottage had all the charm I expected.  It had character.  The bed was comfortable.  The night was relaxing. 

As an added bonus, I remembered while driving down, that my housemate after college now lived in the Bluffton area.  I texted her about hanging out Saturday morning while Sandy was at her meeting.  Molly said she was free; Brian, her husband, suggested a nice brunch restaurant to go to.  We both enjoyed Eggs Benedict and hours (literally) of conversation.  It is so nice to just sit and talk – uninterrupted – with friends.  It is a luxury that play dates don’t allow.  It is something I am realizing I need. 

That same week, I had been able to spend a Monday evening supper with my friend, Laura.  We have started meeting once a month (sans kids) to talk and hang out.  It is one thing I look forward to each month.  Friends.

This week, Luke and Steph and their kids came over for the afternoon and supper.  We share youth group sponsor responsibilites, so we are getting to spend lots of time together.  It has been a good thing.  While Ellie slept and the older kids watched a movie, we sat and strategized about the next three months of youth group.  When Ellie woke up, we watched The Great Pumpkin together.  For whatever reason, all six of these guys sat on our smallest couch.  It was a cuddly sight.

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Especially Ellie and her Sam buddy.

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Jeremy and I put the finishing touches on supper.  After supper and a small “show” by Ellie, all tired bodies returned to their respective homes and went to bed. 

It has been a good week.  I finished my project for grad class and will just have to put finishing touches on it after my peer reviews, so I am breathing easier and have more time.  We have been with friends.  There have been some beautiful days.  (Hello, I have clothes on the line on a 60F day in November!!!)  May we look toward Thanksgiving with thanks in our hearts.  Blessings in the week ahead.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween

I went shopping for Halloween outfits awhile ago.  When I left home, they both said they wanted to be butterflies.  I could not find butterflies.  I found ladybugs though.  So, I called to Grandma’s (who was taking care of them) and asked Madison if she was okay with a ladybug; she said yes.  I asked Ellie about a ladybug or Minnie Mouse.  She picked Minnie Mouse.  Then, about a week later, she changed her mind and wanted to be a ladybug, too.  In the end, we had two of the cutest ladybugs around.

It started off a little rough; Ellie wanted to wear purple tights instead of black.  And while I don’t normally take up the clothing battle, I did in this case.  It was exhausting.  We were finally able to leave. 

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We went to Trunk-or-Treat again this year at Living Water Church.  I like with smaller kids that we don’t have to walk a long way between houses.  I do think that next year, or at lest when they are school age, we will start in town trick-or-treating.  The girls had lots of practice saying, “Trick-or-Treat” and “thank you.”  And it was great to see all the themed trunks.  I appreciate that people take the time to make it an experience for the kids.

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They stopped somewhere along the way to wait (and wait and wait) to get their faces painted.  Madison went with a ladybug.  Ellie picked a rainbow.  We rode a “horse” at one trunk,

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found a friend from church who happened to be another ladybug!

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and ate some supper.  Then, we headed to Grandma and Grandpa Ediger’s house to show them their outfits and trick-or-treat.  We met Cale and Landen there saying hi as well.

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A few nights later, we dressed them up again (it is good to get full use out of the costume!) and took them to trick-or-treat times at Grandma and Grandpa Yoh’s house. 

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We girls ventured down the street to the other two houses participating on their cul-de-sac.  The residents were super friendly, and I think the girls had fun going door to door too.

We are done for this year, but we will see what next year brings….

Ramseyer Farms

A couple of weeks ago, Grandma and Grandpa Yoh took the girls to Ramseyer Farms.  They took them last year to Bauman Orchards, but decided to try out one a little closer to their house this year.  The girls had a blast.  It was a pretty nice day, and the farm was not too busy – which, from what I have heard, is unusual.  Madison really liked the hamster wheel.  Once Grandpa showed her how to do it, she really got the wheel spinning. 

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Ellie liked the tractor.

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They both enjoyed the train, the horse, and the slide.

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Of course, they picked pumpkins!

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They even got to milk a cow!!

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By far, their favorite part was the corn kernel wagon.  It is pretty hypnotizing to play with the kernels.  It kinda sucks you in, and you just don’t want to leave. 

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The girls talked and talked and talked about their adventures this day.  It was so fun!  Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa!