Saturday, February 25, 2017

Columbus Trip

For the girls' birthdays, we gave them some cash and announced an upcoming trip to Columbus to ... go to the mall!  Madison had this on her Christmas list with a million stars after it.  She thought the mall would be the ultimate place to go.  (We have been to the mall maybe twice to get to Payless; I have no idea where she learned about the mall or why it was so amazing.)

We called up our friends, Mike and Anja, who had visited in October.  Their kids and our got along really well, and we thought they might like a reunion.  So, on Saturday morning we set out for Easton Town Centre.  First stop: American Girl (AG) Store.  Madison and Ellie both brought their My Generation dolls (generic American Girl doll from Target).  When we arrived at the store, we were surprised they were having a special event, the release of a new doll.  So, the girls each got a free cookie, a free shirt for their dolls, and did a craft!  Then, they looked at the clothes, accessories, new dolls, and miscellaneous things they had previously seen in the AG magazines (that somehow started showing up in our mailbox about the time Madison turned 5).  Since they only had $30 to spend, their choices were severely limited.  Madison finally decided to have her dolls ears pierced ($17.20), only to find out she couldn't since the ear mold was slightly different to the real AG doll.  Shockingly, Madison was not really upset and moved on.  Ellie just wanted to go to Build-A-Bear (BAB).

Next stop: Build-A-Bear.  Ellie had heard about this place when one of her preschool friends showed a Paw Patrol dog they had made at BAB.  Ellie cruised through the possible options and quickly settled on a black dog.  The process is 1) choose your animal, 2) pick sounds....additional money... we picked no sounds, 3) stuff your animal at the stuffing machine, 4) place the small heart inside and wish on it before the animal is stitched up, 5) make a birth certificate for your new pet, 6) buy any extras like clothes, food bowls, leashes, etc... we bought a leash, and 7) pay for it.  Since this was an experience, I took pictures of Ellie adopting her first pet.

Final stop: Lego Store.  Since Madison had spent no money at AG store and only purchased a small stuffed bunny backpack charm at BAB, she had cash left for the Lego store.  Both girls are really into building with Legos, especially the Lego Friends series.  Madison pondered her choices: 1 bigger set,  2 mid-sized sets, or a few small sets.  She settled on one mid-sized set and a small set.  She wanted some more animals to play with and this offered that.  She ended up putting them together at Mike and Anja's the next day.

 Before going to our friends' house for the evening, we ate at Red Robin and then headed to Millstone Creek Playground.  It was a hoppin' place, but a big enough playground the kids still had a lot of fun.

We spent Sunday with Mike and Anja.  The kids, Mike and Jeremy took the dog (Lucy) for a walk on Sunday morning.  It was still pretty chilly, and they all came back with cold toys and bodies to warm up before church.  After church and naps for the littlest one (Teddy), we headed on a bike ride/walk to a nearby park.  It was a beautiful day, and it felt good to take advantage of the weather.  We ended the night by eating at a delicious pizza place where the girls spent a lot of time watching the guy toss pizza dough in the air followed by ice cream at Graeters.

Monday, we hung out for a bit in the morning before venturing out.  We went to the Franklin Park Conservatory (FPC).  It is a beautiful facility filled with plants in rooms that mimic different biomes - mountains, desert, tropical rain forest, deciduous forest.

We also colored, created work that paralleled the featured artist's work,

played with a giant light bright,

listened to a jazz band (a first for our kids - and they LOVED it),

and played on the playground outside.

It was - again - a beautiful day.

We enjoy Columbus especially when it includes seeing friends.  I imagine we will go again, but when we can venture to the zoo... one on Ellie's list of "to dos"!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Salt Lake City

Jeremy travels quite a bit for work, in spurts.  Sometimes he goes all the way to the West Coast; sometimes just to the state up north... or the state to the west... or the state to the east.  Sometimes he is gone for the day, overnight, a few days, or almost a week.  Sometimes he goes nowhere but the basement for a couple weeks.  It is unpredictable, but keeps things fresh.

The only thing that is consistent is he leaves, we stay.  There have been three exceptions to this: 1) I traveled to Goshen, Indiana with him so I could visit a friend. 2) He and I went to California for a four day work trip with LOTS of driving and as many national parks squeezed in as we could. 3) The whole family went to Michigan for a long weekend for work and play.  This month, I added a fourth exception: I flew out to Salt Lake City with him for four days.

This trip was good for many reasons... 1) my cousin and her family live there, 2) I needed (and he needed) a break from life here in Ohio, 3) there is snow, 4) there is a place to ski, 5) we needed some time together as a couple to reconnect, 6) it is good for the kids to get breaks from us and learn we will return, and 7) there are mountains there.

We left on a Tuesday morning for the Canton Akron airport and had a very tight layover in Chicago; we made it - barely!  We landed late morning in Salt Lake, rented a car, and started his getting his work done.  We toured (briefly) the Morman tabernacle and listened to a noon organ recital.  I hung out at the Visitor's Center, bought some postcards, mailed postcards, ate some free popcorn, talked to a guy about the best ski places, and killed time.  Jeremy, in the meantime, worked.  We checked into our hotel around 5pm, called my cousin Jenny, and had some supper.  

We had planned on skiing on Thursday, but the weather forecast was so much better for Wednesday - and more importantly, Jeremy was able to complete his field work on Tuesday - that we decided to ski Wednesday.  There are a lot of ski resorts to choose from.  We ended up picking Alta, which is one of the best ones according to locals.  They have a pretty sweet deal for novices like us - three lifts, almost entirely green slopes, all day access, only $45!  We jumped on it.  We picked up some ski pants from my cousin and caught up briefly and headed up to the mountain.  The day was spectacular - sunny, 33F, no wind.  I was slow and unstable at first, but gained confidence as the day went on.  Jeremy was a professional from the start; he is a stronger skier than me.  We had a blast; it took us back to our dating days ... young, carefree, no kids, doing sporty things.  The difference - by the end of the day our my body hurt.  It was completely worth it.

On Thursday, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, eased into working out in the fitness center, and got ready for the day.  I loved the relaxed feel of the day - no urgency, no demands, no helping anyone out.  Jeremy and I met my cousin for lunch.  While he headed to do work for a new job site, Jenny gave me a tour of the Ronald McDonald House where she works; it is a pretty incredible facility and service to the families that need it.  In the evening, we went to Jenny's house for supper - steak, potatoes, and asparagus.  It was delicious.  I enjoyed spending time with her family and getting to know her kids a little bit.  I don't see them as often as I do my cousins who live in Kansas City.  If I travel west, that is usually the farthest I go when visiting family.  It was good to laugh, hear stories, and be with family.

Friday, we could move a little slowly since our flight out was delayed by an hour.  We made it home by about 10 that night.  We were welcomed home on Saturday morning by a breakfast for kings prepared by Grandma Yoh and the girls.  It was good to be reunited.

We had a lot of help back here at home from grandparents to make this possible, and we are eternally grateful to have a family who loves each other.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Better Post in February…

I told my mom that it had been forever since I posted… mid-January, if I remember correctly.  That was also the last time I had taken a picture using my regular camera and not just quick snapshots with my phone.  But it feels funny to let so much time pass and leave it so undocumented.  I would like my girls to come back here to be able to read about their history at some point.  Some people have asked if I had thought about printing this into a book for them.  Last I tried, it was complicated to format the pictures with the words; if anyone has wisdom in that area, feel free to let me know.  I suppose I could just print the words, but the pictures tell a story too.  (I am though one of those “old fashioned” people that still print 4x6 pictures to put in a photo album, so maybe the pictures are redundant.)  So, what has happened?  I feel like not a lot of super exciting life things necessarily, but there are some highlights:

Madison took gymnastics for the first time.  She was very excited to try it out.  Jeremy and I were very impressed with the way she listened to what she needed to do to improve and then made adjustments.  She should be a joy to coach someday.  She was also tenacious in improving.  She would come home and work on the skills she couldn’t quite do correctly.  So, the first night it was the bridge.  She worked all week on the bridge and improving her cartwheels.  Another week it was the headstand.  She is still working on this one, but is getting better at that.  Then, it was round-offs… slight variation on the cartwheel.  The bar was tricky because we couldn’t work on it at home, so she spent extra time while there flipping her body.  Her least favorite was probably the balance beam; I think it just didn’t seem “fun” or different enough.  Had she tried a cartwheel or something more challenging than walking, I think she may have liked it more.  She is not sure if she likes dance or gymnastics better.  Her next venture – softball!

Valentine’s Day…This is usually a bigger production at our house, but this year Jeremy was out of town that day and the day after and Madison had gymnastics on Valentine’s day.  So, we switched it the day before and it was kinda a rush job.  We had waffles, white sauce, strawberries, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream.  We didn’t get dressed up, which made the meal lose some of its specialness.  Next year, we will try to bring it back.  (This is me trying to take a picture with a selfie stick for the first time. Fail.)  I went to Madison’s class for her party.  She had a great time, especially coloring the robot craft.  Ellie loved her party – or should I say, the bag of candy and cards she came home with.  The fun lips are courtesy of Mrs. Douglas!  Jeremy bought me roses this year; he is incredibly thoughtful with flowers.   They have made our table more beautiful for the past week at least.

Surprise treat to the Smuckers store for ice cream sundaes.  The girls wanted to pose with the Pillsbury dough boy. 

Ellie also posed with the children at the library – a hit when she was little, and still a hit today.

Visiting the geese at The Barn.  Neither one of them completely relaxed during the visit with the animals.  (And honestly, neither did I.)

Hiking at the Wilderness Center.  This is always a good time.  I often forget how close we are to this gem.  This hike we kicked it off with a HUGE rat snake hanging out on the trail.  (Yes, it was alive.)  Madison sprinted as far as she could in the other direction.  Ellie jumped in my arms.  I don’t know how well you can see it in this pictures, but it was spectacular.

I have taken on the role of volunteer story time reader for a group of preschoolers at the local library.  It is pretty low pressure because the woman who does the other session of story time does all the prep work, so I just show up and read, sing, and do crafts.  I like the reading part.  I enjoy the singing part, but probably butcher whatever I am singing – but I do it enthusiastically! I don’t love the craft.  I am not good with preschoolers, glue, and stuff.  I am good with my own trying something in a controlled environment.  A group of 14 with 2 adults is a little much.  Kuddos to all the preschool teachers in schools and churches!  The theme is Safari and each week we talk about a new animal.  This is the photo spot in which Ellie is posing.  Super cute!
We also had random fun learning to cut up veggies for a salad (What age can kids use large knives?  5?  I thought you would agree!), singing on stage, and eating at the Mexican restaurant - with the really cool booth artwork that the girls love!

Our church dedicated a new space last month.  We had been working on an expansion fellowship hall – one that is accessible, modern, spacious, and provided room to grow and breathe a bit.  While not complete, it is looking good.  During the dedication portion, the congregation was asked to write their favorite scripture or one they thought was meaningful on the cement floor.  The concept was that then we would always be “standing on the Word of God” when in that space.  It is a neat visual.  So, we did that.  Here is our family’s space.

Be on the lookout… two new blogs coming soon… Utah… and Columbus!!