Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fall Mini Vacation

We needed it – this little vacation.  We needed a time to reconnect, to get away from the jobs and responsibilities at home, to breathe in and out as a family.  We didn’t go far, but that didn’t matter.  And we didn’t stay long, and that didn’t matter either.  The point is that we went together. 

We took off last Thursday after Madison got home from school to Columbus.  We ate a quick meal at Five Guys Burgers and Fries – good food, but few healthy options to add to the girls’ meals.  (Better hamburgers by far than other chains, but I like that other places offer yogurt, apple slices, mandarine oranges, etc.)  We checked into the hotel.  Ellie, especially, was super excited about staying in a hotel.  It is the coolest thing to her.  In fact, she would have been happy going to the Royal Star hotel in Riceland; she asks about staying there most times we pass.  We brought up the bags and immediately did the most important thing: changed into our swimsuits.  It is not my most important thing, but that is not what matters in times like this.  I was just hoping that the pool was not cold, that there was at least a bit of warm seeping through the waters.  Thankfully, there was.  The pool area was warm, tropical, which was a good start.  The pool itself was good, although I wouldn’t have complained if it was even warmer.  I was grateful it was no colder.  The girls went right in.  Madison didn’t take long taking off her swimvest.  She did a great job practicing her swimming underwater between Jeremy and me.  It was good to see her conquering the water again.  Ellie did not cling, but started swimming all around, too.  I am glad she had not reverted to her fear of water after an absence of swim time. 

We showered, put on some PJs, read some books, and crawled into beds.  I will say this is when I am so grateful to have my Kindle Paperwhite (no, I am not being paid in any way, although if they would like to sponsor me…).  When you share a room with your kids and they need to go to bed at least an hour before you, the TV is not an option and neither is leaving on a light. So, an e-reader that allows me to read a little and enjoy a little solitude is most welcome.

The next morning we enjoyed the hotel breakfast – donuts, waffles, yogurt, sweet cereals, etc.  Then, we headed to the Columbus Zoo.  We were a bit worried about the rain, but it ended up being a beautiful day there.  Madison decided that she wanted to draw the animals that she saw.  This was a great idea and so neat to watch.  (It also made me work on being in the moment and not rush between animals.)  Her pictures were great – penguins, two kinds of fish, a flamingo, and an alligator. 

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We rode the train and that was fun.  I was prepared to for the girls to do both the train and the carousel, but they must have thought they needed to just choose one because they declined the carousel. 

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They burned off some energy at the Polar Bear play area before heading out.

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We had lunch at Olive Garden.  I love their salad.  I am not sure if it is just the dressing or what it is, but I could eat three bowls of that stuff!  (Side note: Do not take it home in a to-go box.  The result is a soggy, disgusting salad not worth the trouble of transporting.)  The girls enjoyed pizza and spaghetti.  We ended the day with shoe shopping for the girls  They only had summer shoes, and the temperatures are taking a turn toward fall.  It lasted a good 2-3 hours!  For shoes!  For a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old!  They both got a pair of tennis shoes – Ellie was super excited, Madison mildly okay with that.  Madison also got a pair of dressier school shoes and another pair of black boots to grow into.  The drive home was fairly quiet. 

We stopped at Grandma and Grandpa Yoh’s to pick up Jeremy’s car before heading home.  It was good.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Snippets of Life

Life just goes as life goes.  Sometimes there is not that much to talk about, and other times, there is no end to the amount you can tell someone.  While we did go on a mini-vacation (see more recent post), most of life just happened.

While Jeremy’s family was in, we called on the brute strength of the combined families to move our playset.  We love our playset, and we thought we had picked the perfect spot.  I mean, it looked good while they were putting it up.  It looked good during lunch.  It did not look good by about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  The slide was blazing hot and facing the afternoon sun.  There was no way Madison was going to be able to play on it after school, which, let’s be honest, is the time it will get the most use.  So, we contemplated new locations, positioned the small climbers there, and watched for the amount of sun exposure.  (This is a science – placing your playset in your yard.  You didn’t know that, did you?  Neither did we.)  Finally, after much observation, it was determined the best spot was closer to the house, parallel to the deck.  I was not on board.  I did not want a monster playset blocking up our otherwise idyllic view of the horses and countryside.  But the idea of kids actually being able to use the playset won out.  So, we called on the boys men to move it – Luke, Jeremy, Arturo, and Jason.  They used an amazing system – one Jeremy had witnessed on TV in a documentary about moving the ark (or a prototype of it??).  They placed the tower portion on wooden fence posts and simply rolled it across the yard. 

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And you know what?  I LOVE where the new playset is.  The girls play on it more because it is close to the house… and in the shade.  The view is not obstructed as the tower is off to the side and the beam for the swings lines up with our deck rail.  Good move… I will give Jeremy credit for this one!  And here are some of the support staff watching from up high.

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Remember we went to watch the cross country runners?  She loves running the hallway on our main floor.  It was while she was running it the other day, she said, “Mom, look.  I am just like Emily!” (our youth group girl who was running cross country).  So cool the impression high school kids can make on littler kids in such positive ways.

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I conquered something on my homemaking list of things to do recently.  I know you will probably laugh and tell me how easy it is.  But, I had never taken on this particular task.  Making homemade applesauce.  You read that right.  Have you tried it?  It sounds intimidating or time consuming or something, so I had never tried it.  Leona (our neighbor from our old house) brought by some apples.  She said, “Will you use these?  You just need to clean them up a little, and they would be good for applesauce.”  I said, “Sure, I will try.  How do you make applesauce?”  And she told me.  And I put the apples on the counter.  And they sat there, and sat there, and sat there.  One day, I finally decided I could not waste all those apples, and so I did it… with help.  Ellie turned every apple by herself through the apple peeler and corer.  (No, I did not peel all the apple by hand and cut them… there are machines to help with that!)  She was a trooper!  We put the apples in the pot; let them simmer for a really long time; and then sent them through the food processor.  Ellie had warm applesauce for lunch, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment. 

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Now on to bigger things… maybe canning something one day or sewing a button on or hemming something up or … you get the idea.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Happy Birthday, Theo!

We had the privilege of helping Theo celebrate turning 1.  He actually turned one a few weeks ago, but threw himself another party here in Ohio so we could be included.  While he smiled pretty for the camera, he wanted nothing to do with the cupcake itself.  Seriously?  So strange. 

There were a few general party pictures.

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There was some card and present opening.

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There was the obligatory singing for the birthday boy.

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There was some help blowing out the candles.

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There were some good photo ops with the cousins and grandma and papa.

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It was a good night being with family.  As I was talking with Marianne, one of Jeremy’s aunts, she said, “Just listen.  Isn’t it so neat to hear all the noise?  The people laughing and talking.  The general happy noise of family.”  It was true. 

We had the opportunity to spend ;lunch yesterday with Jen and Arturo who came in from NY late Friday night.  We came back for supper that night to hang out with Jason, Niki, and Theo who arrived later in the day from Minnesota.  When everyone is so spread out, it is important to take time together.  I am glad they are able to make it out.

Random Things

When you haven’t blogged for awhile, there are just some pictures that don’t fit well under any topic, but they are worth sharing.  Here is my tribute to those photos.

1) Sick day.  Although Ellie had a fever on Wednesday afternoon, she was feeling much better by Thursday morning.  Instead of preschool, we headed for a walk to take cookies to Grandpa at coffee corner.  On the way home, we stopped to enjoy the park.

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2) Fog.  There have been so many foggy mornings.  They are beautiful.

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3) The Auction.  Since preschool started, we rarely get the chance to enjoy the auction.  This week, we took the opportunity to do so.  We like going up high to watch the cattle get unloaded.  We admired the calves for awhile.  And then, we were in for a treat – 2 llamas and an alpaca unloaded.  (I was curious how that sale went, but we didn’t see it happen.) 

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4) The Auction, take 2.  Ellie has started taking a front row seat for the actual auction.  This week she put her feet on the edge, just like the real farmers sometimes do.  She also snapped this picture of the mama cow and her calf up for sale.

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5) Lemonade stand.  We recently bought an amazing playset for the girls to grow up with.  (Thanks, Grandma and Papa Yoh for the encouragement and more!)  They like the play equipment, but they really like the lemonade stand. 

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6) Lehmans.  Again, this is a rare stop now that we moved a little farther down the road.  Ellie and I went in there to see what they were stocking in the toy department.  First, she stopped to make a phone call in the booth.

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7) Cross country and hot chocolate.  This Saturday, we went to watch some of our youth group kids run at a cross country meet.  Unlike last year, this year, the weather was beautiful.  It was also a bit chilly in the morning. So, I fixed the girls some hot chocolate in fancy to-go cups.  They were super proud of their cups that were just like their daddy’s.

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8) Shoes.  Yep, this is what I wore to Madison’s cheerleading debut.  It is like looking at those “What’s Different?” pictures.  Confidence booster for sure!

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9) Fashionistas.  I took the girls shopping for some fall clothes.  This is what they both chose to wear.  So, so, stylish!

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10) Bus stop.  Every once and awhile, the bus forgets to stop at our place.  It always brings her home.  The fun part is that it turns around and Madison gets off on our side of the house.  It is a fun change.

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Future Cheerleader?

Madison (along with a lot of other girls in grades K-6) decided to test the waters of cheerleading Friday night at the football game.  They had cheer camp from 3:30-5pm on Wednesday and Thursday this past week to prepare.  She always seemed happy and full of energy even after that hour and a half.  She did not, however, remember many of the moves, cheers, or things they had learned.  She did show us one super tricky jump where one leg goes out and the other legs is bent to the side.  (I think this is called a “herkie” from my failed attempt at cheerleading in junior high, but I could be wrong.)  Friday came and she was super excited for the big moment to arrive.

We took her to the high school at 6:30.  She was dressed in bulldog orange and black, which I thought was a great idea.  She was receiving a “free” t-shirt to wear that night; I assumed it would be bulldog orange or black or maybe gray.  It wasn’t.  It was … pink!  Yep, pink.  Maybe for breast cancer awareness month?  Maybe because they are little girls?  I do not know.  What I do know is that I felt silly that my kid would be wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt under a pink t-shirt.  Did it really matter?  No.  Did she even bat an eye?  No.  Was she the only one?  No.  I am pretty sure it was just all the insecurities in me that I battled for so long came back the minute I walked through the doors of Dalton High.  Hopefully, she will not struggle with the same things, but will have the same confidence that she did on Friday night as she journeys through high school later.  Anyway….

I left her there and joined Jeremy and Ellie to find seats.  It was a pretty good night – a little cool, but the rain held off with the exception of a few sprinkles.  After the teams warmed up, and after an elementary class sang the national anthem, and after the cheerleaders did their cheers for the opposing teams, and after the marching band was seated, we finally saw the little cheerleaders heading around the track.  There were a lot of them!  And they all looked just as excited as Madison.

So, for the full first quarter, she stood on the track and was a part of it.  I don’t know if I would say she cheered, but she tried, and she smiled, and she waved, and she had a good time.  And she looked super cute doing it!

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We stayed to watch the halftime show.  They enjoyed this as well.  I think she was torn between being a cheerleader, a marching band member, or a majorette.  Since we still have a few years to decide, I let her ponder the pros and cons of each for awhile.