Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our Monthly Visits

My sister and I made a deal awhile back :  that we would do our best to see each other once a month.  Living only two hours apart, this has been a pretty attainable goal for us so far. Lately, our monthly visits have turned more into bi-weekly visits.  It has been wonderful..... no complaining here!   The blessing of these visits can best be summed up in one way :  by watching the ease and comfort and love shared between Lucy and her Papa, Aunt, and cousins.  It is priceless!   I am so glad that lately our monthlies have become weeklies!

As a result, my camera has been working overtime! And I have to admit, some of the editing and organizing of my photos got lost in the shuffle!   But finally, I am caught up!

This was a fun outing we took to Connor Prairie in Indy.... a must-do activity for any Fall enthusiast.

Per their website, Connor Prairie is the "nation's finest outdoor living history museum."  They really know how to do it up right in the Fall!

Interactive music jams are just one of the many things we partook in....

Lindsay's rock star boyfriend, Luke, joined us.  As captain of their high school soccer team, he lead them all the way to the state championships----and they won!  for the second year in a row!  and he scored two of the three winning goals! But he would never tell you any of this , which is why I am! Yeah, like I said , he is rock star......

The hay ride is the best this side of the Mississippi , complete with a headless horseman chasing you on his horse, and a great tour of the beautiful grounds.

We also went to an old log cabin, in the dark, lit by candlelight, and listened to haunted ghost stories.   Lisa and I were laughing because it probably wasn't the most appropriate thing for Lucy.   You win some--- you lose some!

These puppets looked a little creepy to Lucy when I showed her the picture below, but she was not complaining during the show!  This is the second time now that we have seen a Stevens Puppets show; they are unforgettable!   The owners do all the creating and maintaining of the marionette puppets, as well as developing the shows, which are interspersed with hilarious adult humor.

This was "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

We also went to an open house recently at Lindsay's High School, so we could hear her choir perform.  This is Lindsay with one of her BFF's from grade school, Audrey.

Awwwwwwhhhhh.....How much does this girl love her Papa?

And how much does she adore her Aunt Lisa?

Lindsay's choir, "Golden Voice," did not disappoint.  They were incredible!  And,  if we just so happen to live in Indy when it is time for Lucy to go to high school, she will without a doubt go to Guerin.  This school is so filled with the Spirit.  The teenagers are unbelievable! I just loooove this school!

And if  Lucy doesn't go there, then I will just settle for making her the official representative :

(picture courtesy of Aunt Lisa)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Birthday Blessings

Recently, I welcomed in a new year to my life.  The entire day/weekend celebration did not disappoint.  The most memorable part of it all:  I was with some of my favorite people.


From the moment I opened my garage door on the morning of my birthday, I was surrounded by some of my favorite little red-hued creatures:

All weekend long, they hung out with us.

If you don't know why these little guys are so special to us, you can click here or here.   

This was just the beginning of the blessings.

The weather could not have been more perfect:  the trees, the foilage... breathtaking.   

All.  Weekend.  Long.

Another blessing:  Lucy and her BFF, Abby, both had the day off school.  With Abby in second grade , and at a different school than Lucy , play dates during the school year have become harder and harder for her mom and I to arrange.   So this was really extra special that they were both off on my birthday.  

Plus,  Abby's mom Tammy , has a birthday two days before mine.  She shares my enthusiasm for all things Fall.  So we were very much looking forward to a nice outdoor Fall celebration.   

Our first destination:  Schappacher Farms:  
(Our third year to take the girls here.)

This gem of a farm is only ten minutes from my house.  

We essentially had both (yes two!) pumpkin patches all to ourselves!  The girls frolicked on the farm all morning long.  Tammy and I got to have some nice adult conversation while the girls played.  


Another reason this farm is so great:  everything is free!   No paying for the corn maze, or to feed the animals, or the hayride.   All free!   And as you can tell, you can get up close and personal with all the animals.

Next, Lucy and the cows:

The owner of the farm told the girls it was fine to feed the cows, and to help themselves to the big bin of corn by the barn.

I don't think the owner realized how girls this age may need a few boundaries.  They kept running back and forth, back and forth, feeding and feeding....

He eventually came and quietly took the bin of corn away.  

So the girls resorted to trying to feed the cows leaves and grass...

The cows weren't really having any of this.  Not after that yummy corn.

So, we moved on....

The next birthday blessing was truly priceless.  

It started with a conversation I had with Tammy a few months back about a new restaurant I wanted to try :  Cozy's Cottage.   When we were making plans for my birthday , she remembered this conversation and suggested we go there after the farm.

I told Brian how excited I was to try this place, as it so reminded me of my Mom.  She loved to try the local, quaint little places.  Whenever she would come to visit me, she would always request going to places like this, over the chain restaurants.  I knew, from the moment I stepped on the property, my Mom would have loved this place.

They have this great outdoor fire pit area.
The beautiful grounds and landscaping at Cozy's Cottage.  We ate outside.
As we were walking into the restaurant, I heard "Karen?"  I looked , did a double take , and then realized who it was.   A dear friend of my Mom's , whom I haven't seen in years and years.  Mrs. McFarland has lived here in the Cincinnati area for longer than me , and in all these years, I have never run into her.  Not until today.  Not until my birthday.  Not until I went to a place that had my Mom written all over it.

Providence.  A little birthday gift from my Mom.

We had a lovely chat.  I felt a closeness to my Mom.  What a gift.

But, it didn't stop there. 

 Later that night , on the eve of my birthday , I received an email from Mrs. McFarland with an unbelievable attachment.  Another blessing was about to be discovered.  Her son, Todd , whom was childhood friends with my brother , had come across an audio tape. What was on it , you ask?   My Mom.  Her voice!   From 1977!   More specifically , my brother, Mom and Dad had tape recorded a four minute message to the McFarlands , and then sent it off in the mail.  A creative way to communicate to one another back when there were no computers or Skype or cell phones!  All these years later , Todd had found it , converted it , and sent it for all our family to hear!  And it just so happened to all come together on my birthday!

It is impossible to relay how special all of this was.  To see Mrs. McFarland , to feel my Mom's presence , and then to hear my Mom's voice on that 1977 audio recording!  Unbelievable.

The gift of God's divine providence never ceases to amaze me.  

The next day there was more birthday celebrating to be done, with the two loves of my life:

We went to BonnyBrook Farms, in Clarksville, Ohio.  This 350 acre working farm is something to behold.

We went on a 40 minute wagon ride, touring the farm and all its glory.

Guess who was following us the entire time?

Lucy went on a "pony" ride:

Yeah, I agree.  That ain't no pony.   But that is what they called it, so that's what were going with.

Lucy and her 'pony'.

She looooooved it!

If my birthday weekend was any sign of the year to come, then I'll take it!

And just to wrap up the end of my fave month, we can't forget Halloween....

Carving, playing and painting:

As you can tell from my carved pumpkin, I'm not all that creative.  I really see the carving only as a means to a greater ends, and that is this:

Lucy wanted to be an angel.  Well, originally she told me she wanted to be Jesus, but I wasn't real sure about that, for many reasons.   So when Aunt Lisa came across some wings and a halo (from Lindsay , from many years back) , Lucy was sold. 

Did she remember that she was angel on her first Halloween?  No, not really.  (you can check that out here)

But I remembered.  I also remembered that I still had her costume, and that it had been quite large for her when she was just one.  Could it possibly still fit her? Well, the answer is below!    She was thrilled!  (and so was Brian and his wallet!)

Even though it was cold and rainy and windy (for the third year in a row!!!), we had a great time trick or treating.

And as you can see, Lucy came home with a lot of loot:

Stay warm!   Winter is trying to knock on the door around here...but were not having it-yet!