Friday, December 26, 2014


We started off our Christmas festivities last weekend at my sister's home, with our traditional white elephant exchange.  Oddly, we did not come home this year with a single zebra.  Or a married one either.  We also didn't come home with very many pictures.  After I took just a few shots, I got an error message saying my 32GB SD card was full. I went through and deleted some so that I would have a little bit of space, but that was tedious work, so I didn't spend much time on it.

We got to meet Ethan's fiance Tera.  She does have eyes, I promise.
They were just closed, and this was the shot that I got the error message on, so no retakes.
And Phoebe's boyfriend, Phil

Earlier this week, we visited the Historic Kirtland Visitor's Center.  It was a beautiful display, and I would highly recommend it.  Well worth the drive.

They have over 750 nativities on display, from larger than life,
to carvings that fit inside a walnut shell.  
Our kids especially loved the room that was set up for them to play in.  So much of the display was "look with your eyes, not your fingers", so it was nice to let them have a hands on break.

Really?  Why? Let's go with  just 749 nativities displayed next year.

Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma and Grandpa Selvage's home.  

Considering Jesus, maybe the second best.
Ellie has a matching shirt, so I'm not being biased.
Tommy and Ellie got piles of presents, but the guitars were the hit of the evening.

First thing this morning, they grabbed their guitars to take to the living room to play.  

As you will recall from my last post, Tommy requested a train from Santa, and Ellie wanted some princesses.  Santa delivered in a hands down hit fashion.  We played with trains from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m with just brief potty and meal breaks, and the occasional dances with princesses.  The Fisher Price Loving Family Grand Manor was a nice touch, but totally unnecessary.  Win some, lose some.  That $12 box of six fake Disney Barbies was what Ellie wanted, and she spun in joy when we finally tore her away from the train set to take a look at what Santa brought for her.

I felt some measure of success as a parent when Ellie
showed the princesses the star on our advent calendar.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


The kids and I went last Sunday to Sandy's house to celebrate Thanksgiving with them.  We took a few extra days, and since Tom had to work he didn't go with us.  We repeated the big dinner thing (although on a much smaller scale) at home on Thursday with his parents.

While dinner was cooking, we took advantage of the beautiful weather to play outside for a while.

This is what I am most thankful for.
It only took about an hour to get this shot.

A quick kiss, then back to playing.

They chased each other round and round...

and round and round Aunt Sandy's porch

stopping for bubble breaks

and a bit more sibling love!

On Monday, we visited Entertrainment Junction where we spent a whole day among the choo-choos.  They had an amazing display of G scale trains, plus we were able to visit the North Pole while we were there.  This place is HUGE and a must see for train lovers.

 I couldn't get an overview shot of the thousands of trains, so here's a sample.

Tommy confided to Santa that he would like a train for Christmas.

Ellie was more reluctant to share secrets, but Santa
 managed to discover her love of princesses.  He told her
that his favorite princesses are the ones from Frozen.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween

This year we went with the Frozen theme. Ellie went as Anna, and Tommy as Kristoff.
I have to say that I wish Disney would market some boy stuff from this popular movie.  Although Anna and Elsa costumes are everywhere, I had to actually pull out a sewing machine to make a Kristoff costume.  If that's not a Halloween horror, I don't know what is!

I even made custom Kristoff boot covers with curly toes!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Beautiful Day

It was an absolutely gorgeous day for the end of October.  We enjoyed the evening with some of Tom's friends.  The kids really enjoyed playing in the leaves.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Honey Haven Farm

We went to Honey Haven Farm today to pick out pumpkins with the kids.  Our plan was to go pick our own from the field.  When we went through the sales barn though, the kids ran for the mini pumpkins.  We got them each one of those, and we picked out two pie pumpkins for our "big" pumpkins.  They had tons of fun playing at the tractor playground, and we took a horse drawn hay ride around the farm too.

If I ever have reason to create one of these "stick your face in the hole" picture thingys, I will try to remember to paint both the front AND the back.  I have yet to see a young child grasp the concept of what is being done.  From the back, they are just sticking their face through a piece of plain old plywood.  And why on earth would they smile about that?

Ellie got a cute butterfly painted on her face.

Tommy was in machinery heaven today when he got to drive the big tractor at the playground.

And on another note.... Ellie's a big kid now.  She is potty trained!!!
With potty chairs sitting around our home for the past year and a half, you would think this would have been done long ago.  It wasn't.  But a new princess potty and princess panties, plus wanting to be more like the big kids at the playground finally swayed Ellie.  The first two days were a little rough for her, but then she caught on, and she hasn't had any accidents in over two weeks.  Hurrah!!!

Now if only the new Thomas the train potty and underwear, and the "Chugga, Chugga, Pooh, Pooh!" book would work for Tommy. 
New princess panties.  "I can do it myself, Mama!"

Well, almost!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Emergency Room

Earlier this week I was commenting on my friend Kathy's blog that I am grateful to have our local hospital pass their Joint Commission inspections with flying colors.  Today I felt even more thankful. As she rushed to greet me coming in our back door, Ellie slipped on a toy and crashed into the gate at our kitchen door.  The sound of the thunk and splat Told me that this was more than our typical daily ouchie.  There was blood everywhere, and it took me a few seconds to discover that it was all coming from a cut on her forehead. 

 Samaritan Hospital, here we come for our kids' first ever emergency room visit...

Dripping blood makes everything look far worse than it really is.

Ellie had stopped crying by the time we got to the car.  She was busy chatting up the triage nurse, who let her pick out a hospital bear (she picked a cow print one) and then gave her a bonus dig through a closet full of donated dolls dressed in hospital gowns.

After the physician assistant cleaned her up a bit, she was ready for stitches. Unfortunately, the cut was gaping too much to just use glue, so they have told us to expect a scar. :(

Ellie cried during the anesthesia shot, but then settled in for the show.
She watched, wordlessly, with eyes crossed, as each stitch was taken with the pretty blue thread.  She laid so still that the nurses didn't even have to hold her head or arms.  No fussing at all!
Afterwards, she got a popsicle.  

Ellie was pretty impressed by her hospital visit.  I'm not sure which she was more excited about: the new dolls, the blue thread, the dime that we found on the floor that she got to put in her angel bank, or the Popsicle that had TWO sticks in it.  I just hope she doesn't think this was a good way to get any or all of those things on a regular basis!

I got to do my own inspection of the ER twice in one day. I had been there myself earlier in the day after a bad reaction to a cortisone shot.  This was a very crazy day.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Farm at Walnut Creek

As you have probably noticed from previous posts, we LOVE Rolling Ridge Animal Park. It's a place in Millersburg, owned by an Amish family, where you can take a wagon ride through their wooded property and come face to face with hundreds of animals who are just waiting to be hand fed.

A while back, a friend of mine put out a Facebook comment asking for feedback on Rolling Ridge and a few other animal parks. One of those was The Farm at Walnut Creek.  It is just a few miles from Rolling Ridge, in the same Amish country area of Ohio, but I had never heard of it.  I googled it, and from their website it appeared to be much the same as Rolling Ridge in terms of wildlife, but they also had a beautiful, working farm to tour. Aunt Sandy came for a visit this week and we decided to check it out to see how it compared.

Very picturesque.  This is the view of the farm from about the middle of the wagon ride.
We arrived a little later than we planned so we missed the 10:00 wagon, so we started our visit by walking around the front of the farm.  

We were immediately greeted, quite loudly, by the braying mammoth donkeys.
Fun fact of the day: sheep do not say baa.  At least not these sheep.
They made mooing sounds that I would have mistaken for cow
noises if they had not been standing right in front of me.

One of our next greeters was this beautiful bird.
We heard about free cookies in the kitchen, so we headed up the hill to the house.

A beautiful covered bridge passes over the pond.  They had a nice collection of geese, ducks, and swans.

We took off on the 11:00 wagon, and straight out of the gate, we were greeted by hungry tongues.

Sandy thought they were rather slobbery.

Ellie seemed to like feeding the deer best. Slightly less intimidating,
and she just dropped the feed on the ground for them.

And we were followed as we continued along the trail.

An elk named Randy.  He had a bloody nose.  Presumably from getting into
 a fight with one of the other elk boys over a girl.  He left a big trail
of snot across my back, then proceeded to eat most of a bucket of feed.

These short little cattle were just the right height for easy feeding. 

At one point in the tour, we saw an excavator near a huge mound of earth.  (This was probably Tommy's favorite sighting.) I assumed they were building a ridge to separate parts of the trail, but I was wrong.  The huge mound is actually the manure that they collect and then compost to feed their flower beds.  It thankfully was not at all stinky, because it served as a shelter for many of the animals.

We were not allowed to feed the zebras. Unlike the cattle breeds, they have both
upper and lower teeth, making feeding them a liability issue for the farm.
A very shaggy llama in need of a trim.
A big highlight of the wagon tour was feeding the giraffes.
They were kept in a separate enclosure from the other animals.

Majestic, but so large it was difficult to get a good picture of the whole animal!
After the wagon tour, we resumed our walking tour among the gardens and animals. 

Unlikely friends.  Peacock and tortoise.

The porcupine sort of stayed to himself.

Tommy and Ellie were offered a pony wagon ride by this young man.
They totally FREAKED OUT as it pulled away without mama.
Very, very short ride!

Very lovely landscaping throughout.
Lots of uses for that huge compost pile.
Tommy and Ellie spent quite a bit of time feeding this hungry little guy.

They had beautiful fishes in the pond. Guess they wanted to keep them that way.
Several attempted escapes by this young lady.
She is becoming quite independent.
Headed back up to the big house to sneak another cookie.
They loved these little rockers.  Ellie threw a huge temper tantrum when
she walked around the corner and another child dared to sit in her chair.

My judgement would be that the wagon ride at Rolling Ridge outperformed the one at Walnut Creek by a decent margin.  A wider variety of their animals, including the zebras, came up to the wagon to be fed.  They don't have giraffes, but Rolling Ridge's camel, Humphrey, could not be beat.  Their drivers actually went off course a few times to get you to the more reluctant animals.  And although we had perfect 70 degree weather for our late July trek through the woods at Walnut Creek, I would think I would prefer the shade of a covered wagon if the heat surpassed 80 or so.

But the overall beauty and setting of Walnut Creek came off the winner by a landslide in my book.  The farm was beautifully maintained, with incredibly lovely landscaping bordering the walk-around enclosures.  Although you couldn't feed their animals carrots, we had lots of leftover feed from the wagon ride to share with the other animals.  There was more to explore, and we had a great time doing it.  They are a complete working farm, so in addition to the animals, you can visit their blacksmith shop (we skipped this one, but heard the clanging of the metal), watch them milk the cows, or visit the farmhouse, where they'll give you a free cookie in the kitchen.  They have a lovely living room filled with comfy rockers if you want to sit a spell, and a quilting frame was set up so you could check out the small, even stitches of the Amish ladies. 

And they had nice clean bathrooms, with running water.  Definitely beat out the Port-o-lets at Rolling Ridge with that one!  I saw that Walnut Creek also has sleigh rides available.  I think I can guarantee that we will be taking one of those rides later this year.

What big excursion would be complete without ice cream?  We promised that we would stop for a treat on the way home, but the kids fell asleep before we found a good spot, so we just enjoyed the quiet drive home and then went to Yoder's Red Barn in Ashland.

We made a stop around the corner at the Tot Lot in Brookside Park.

Aunt Sandy tried unsuccessfully to get Ellie to crawl through the climbing tube.

Sandy and Tommy enjoying a tandem swing.

My beautiful Eliana.