Tag Archives: autumn

Cool Spring Corn Maze

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The second outing I planned for our co-op’s monthly get-togethers was a trip to Coolspring Corn Maze. This is an annual tradition for our group that we have enjoyed every October for years.

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This corn maze, located north of us in Mercer, embraced its inner superhero with its “Heroes of the Corn” theme this year.

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The theme was seen in the décor around the farm and in the actual maze design, as seen from this areal shot of the maze:

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The theme was also carried through to the checkpoints hidden within the maze. These checkpoints each spoke of different superheroes and within the description were highlighted words that answered the questions on the crossword puzzles that each of us received before entering the maze. By finding all the checkpoints and all clues hidden within the maze, we were able to solve the puzzle at the bottom of the sheet.

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It was a fun way to get the kids exploring (and learning!) as they navigated the twists and turns of the maze.

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Our co-op group broke into mini groups, as everyone headed in different directions upon entering the corn.

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I found myself walking with Grace and Ozzie, with Rusty as our fearless navigator.

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But we kept crossing paths with other groups.

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It took us a little over an hour to locate all the check points, fill in our crossword puzzle, solve the riddle, and find our way back out of the maze.

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After making our way out of the maze we spent time enjoying the other activities Coolspring Corn Maze offers:

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By the time lunch time arrived we found ourselves inundated with a couple school buses of little people who claimed all the prime picnic tables, leaving us to picnic on the grass.

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The bitterly cold wind eventually drove us back to our cars as we called it a day and said our good-byes to our co-op friends…

See you in November!

 

A Treasured Time at Living Treasures

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Last May our co-op of 10+ years disbarred. It was a sad day when we said good-bye to the church that had become a home away from home for over a decade as we met together with fellow “home” schoolers and dear friends every Wednesday to teach our children and allow them opportunities that are hard to facilitate in a home environment.

When our co-op began, our babies were all in preschool-3rd grade. At the end of the school year last year those same “babies” were entering their senior year with most of our kiddos working independently and no longer needing the co-op classroom environment for academics. It was an end to a beautiful era of life, one that we hated to say good-bye to, but knew we had outgrown the co-op’s original purpose.

Although we no longer needed the academic support that co-op was originally created for, we were still feeling the need for regular social get-togethers with our co-op friends who have become a second family over the years.

Our solution was to move our get-togethers out into the community and to meet twice a month rather than weekly. We decided that to facilitate these social events, and to make sure we made time for them to happen regularly, we (the moms) would each take a month of the school year and plan two field trips, outings, or holiday parties for the kids to meet up and connect with friends.

I signed up for October and the first outing I planned for the month was to Living Treasures Animal Park.

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 This park has a special place in my heart, as it is home to so many sweet memories. Our first visit here was with Gracie as a baby. We have visited it with my sister and her kids, my parents, my brother, my grandfather and many friends. Over the years we have created many sweet memories at this special place, and two Fridays ago we created a few more.

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We arrived as the doors opened and met up with the other co-op families in the parking lot. Because we had a group that exceeded the 20-person minimum for a group rate we were able to get in for $6.99/person, half the normal rate. We also purchased animal feed for the animals…

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Because that is the best part of Living Treasures!

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 This particular animal park is set up to allow visitors opportunities to interact with the animals more intimately than is possible at a zoo.

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The proximity and amount of interaction depends on the type of animal.

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The animals that you can pet and feed by hand include deer, cattle, alpaca, goats, and the wallabies.

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Bigger animals are fed through feeding tubes that drop their treats into a food dish.  These critters eagerly wait beside their bowls hoping for a handout. This system allows kids to interact with the animals up close without the risk of losing fingers.

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The monkeys at Living Treasures are fed with a bucket system. Visitors can place carrots or special monkey pellets in a bucket attached to a chain, and the monkeys can pull the bucket to the cage and fish out their treats.

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The animals all understand this system well and know what it means when little people with buckets come walking their way. The critters tend to swarm you when you approach, especially if you are among the first visitors of the day and everyone is still hungry.

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It was a beautiful day to be outside and it was wonderful seeing friends we hadn’t seen in a while…

And to enjoy it while loving on fur-babies made it all the better!

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I’ve Never met a Pumpkin I didn’t like!

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I LOVE this time of year.

October has and always will have my heart.

I love the weather, the smells, the changing leaves, and the activities attached to this month…

And I tend to fill those 31 days to capacity as I try to fit in all the fall fun I can before the weather turns, the evenings darken, and the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season comes down upon us.

With the month of October comes my favorite holiday of the year…

HALLOWEEN!

It is with great enthusiasm we plan our costumes and decorate the house. One tradition that accompanies this holiday is the annual family pumpkin carving night.

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This year I lucked out when I stumbled across an exceptional deal on pumpkins when driving past a country farm. Sitting by the roadside were HUGE pumpkins that were being sold for $2.00/ each, regardless of size. Well, who could pass up a deal like that?! Rather than simply buy the kids each a pumpkin like I usually do, I decided to go ahead and buy 8 so Toby and I could each carve our own pumpkin.

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We decided Sunday night was the night.

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We have reach the point of life where we rarely have a night where everyone is home together. As much as I hate it, the reality of this season of life is that school schedules, work schedules, church commitments, and social obligations make catching everyone at home, all at one time, a near impossibility. Because of this we have set aside Sunday evening as our family night. After dinner on Sunday we gather in the living room to calendar out our week as a family, hold our weekly family council, and enjoy a lesson, activity or game, and fun treat as a family. Even this commitment has become more challenging with Gracie’s YSA congregation’s meetings now beginning at 3:00 pm each Sunday. This means that Grace isn’t getting home until almost 8:00 on Sundays… but we are making it work. We just save our Family Night activity for 8pm on Sunday nights.

This past Sunday was pumpkin night.

As we prepared for Gracie’s arrival home we cleared the dining room table, covered it in plastic, and carried all the pumpkins in from outside. With the addition of empty bowls carving knives, and metal spoons we had everything we needed to create jack-o’-lantern magic.

When Grace got home we jumped right into the festivities. Everyone chose their pumpkin and began sketching out their design on their pumpkin. I love seeing how creative everyone is with their ideas. And it is always neat to see how reflective the design is of the carver who is creating it.

It was especially neat to watch Brandon as he experienced this family tradition for the first time. He is 16 years old and this was his first time carving a pumpkin, and as his mom this “first” was as delightful as it was watching it with my older kids when they were toddlers experiencing this tradition for the first time…

The only difference: Brandon was a lot less messy and a lot more capable of safely holding a knife.

Everyone jumped in to the task at hand and soon completed pumpkins were scattered across the table.

Tyler created a happy jack-o-lantern.

 

Ozzie paid homage to Gracie’s automobile with a Kia logo.

 

Rusty, our Disney fan, carved a delightful Winnie the Pooh pumpkin.

Molly, our rain lover , carved her pumpkin to reflect a personal delight- autumn rain showers!

Gracie’s pumpkin reflected her educational pursuit of sign language with an artistic carving of the sign for “I love you.”

And finally Brandon decided to keep his first jack-o’-lantern traditional, with a carved  face, cutting the eyes into hearts and topping his pumpkin with a crown.

Toby decided to carve his pumpkin into a night scene, complete with a shooting star.

And I transformed my pumpkin into Jack, from the Disney classic, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

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The guts from eight pumpkins were sorted through, as we pulled and rinsed the seeds to prep them for roasting, and then we headed outside to light all the pumpkins from within and watch them glow on the front porch.

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Standing back  and looking upon our completed creations made my heart swell with love and gratitude for the simple things in life that brings such joy.

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They were simply magical!

For dinner we enjoyed Molly’s dinner creation of stuffed pumpkins. This is a recipe that was passed down from Toby’s mom after she made it for the kids one Halloween weekend when they were little.

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We felt it was time to resurrect this recipe and Molly took on the job of gutting eight pie pumpkins and helping me make the rice and ground beef filler that gets cooked inside. The finish result was delicious and festive…

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A perfect ending to our fun, fall, family night!

Those Who Wander

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It has been said…

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But sometimes those who wander are lost…hopelessly lost…

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Luckily, I was not one of them!

This past Friday we joined the rest of the co-op for our annual trip to Coolspring Corn Maze.

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It is always the highlight of my autumn. I LOVE corn mazes. I love the sights, the smells, the photo opportunities, the perceived thrill of adventure, and the competitive nature of finding all the stations and exiting without needing to call for help…thus solidifying my reputation as the one in the family with the best sense of direction. (A title Toby continues to battle me for!)

Every year we return to the same corn maze and each year the theme of the maze changes. In the past some of their themes have included: Wizard of Oz, Land of the Lost, American Heroes, Westward Go, and The American Farmer. The remnants of these past themes can still be seen sprinkled among the current theme.

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This year’s  theme was “The Greatest Maze on Earth!”

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This theme was carried over into the fun circus themed décor decorating the landscape,

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As well as in the maze itself, as you can see from this areal photo:

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We arrived and purchased our tickets which gave us admission into the maze as well as access to a variety of fun activities around the maze like:

Photo ops:

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The Hay Maze:

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The Bouncing Pad:

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Rides on the hay wagon and in the cow train:

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Hula-hoop Competitions:

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Mini tractors:

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And balloon creations by the most talented balloon artist I’ve ever seen!

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As fun as all the “extras” were, the real reason we were there was the corn maze.

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Before entering, everyone was given a map of the maze to help guide them to the different stations located throughout the maze. It was at each of these stations that the answers to our crossword puzzle questions about life in the circus could be found.

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As soon as we entered, our group split off in different directions with Rusty and Molly going with some of the teens, while Tyler joined Olivia and other teens from co-op. It was weird not having Grace and Ozzie with us and I found myself wandering the maze without children for the first time ever. It was just Lana and I, and I realized how much those kids crimped my style all these years. We were corn maze champs when we didn’t have to pull along all that extra baggage!   😉  I may have to start ditching my kids every year!

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Meanwhile, the kids had a blast exploring the maze with their friends. We kept crossing paths with different co-op teams, allowing me the opportunity to snap some pictures, thus documenting that I did (sort of) keep tabs on my children. 😉

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As soon as everyone had found their way out of the maze we joined back up together for a picnic lunch and some of the other fun activities offered at Coolspring Maze.

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I think this year may have been my favorite theme thus far. It was a bummer that we were down 3 family members, but those who did attend had a wonderful time making special fall memories at the “Greatest Maze on Earth!”

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Gorgeous Grace

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Gracie is a senior this year…

EEEK!

I am not sure how that happened.

It seems it was but a moment ago she was in the toddling phase, just leaning how to navigate, and now she is perched at the edge of the nest ready to take flight.

This is such an exciting time of life for her as she looks out on her future, full of such possibilities. She is loving her senior year and we are enjoying all the senior year milestones that come with this stage of life.

Yesterday we enjoyed another senior year bonding moment as mother and daughter when Grace and I had a photography date at the park.

Rather than hire someone else to photograph her for senior pictures we decided it would be more fun to do it ourselves. Grace and I both have a love of photography and felt we were adept enough behind the camera to pull off at least a couple successful shots for her official senior photos.

I always feel the best shots are the ones taken when the person behind the lens and in front of the lens are connected. There is a sincerity in the smile and a love reflective in the eyes of the model that doesn’t come across as well when there isn’t a relationship between the photographer and the person in front of the camera.

We made a mini date out of it.

It was a needed break for both of us as we stepped outside in the gorgeous fall weather, away from the struggles inside the house, to simply play in the leaves. We had fun choosing props reflective of Grace, her personality, and her story and scoping out the perfect natural backdrops.

In the end the results are exactly what Grace was hoping for.

Sure, the quality of my work may not compare to the gentleman who has a professional photography business set up on Main Street, but there is a sparkle in Grace’s eyes that would have never been found if a stranger had been on the other side of the camera.

We played.

We laughed.

And we made some incredible mother/daughter memories that are priceless.

Oh, how I love my sweet Grace!

Here are some of her favorite shots:

(PS- She’s love some feedback on which ones you think she should choose.)

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Cool Springs Corn Maze

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It is nearing the one month mark since our return home.

And while I miss many things about life on the road…

The family time,

Having Toby with us 24/7,

Seeing amazing sites,

Meeting incredible people,

And enjoying the unique vistas of the American west,

I must say I am so glad to be back in Pennsylvania for the month of October, because as uniquely stunning the parks are out west nothing beats a Pennsylvania autumn!

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 October is my favorite month of the year.

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I love the colored leaves, the crisp temperatures, fall sweaters and apple cider. I love the traditions surrounding October like pumpkin carving, costumes, and corn mazes.

 This October has been a bit different than other Octobers with extra challenges resulting from the transition back to reality and Toby’s absence….a true rollercoaster ride of beautiful moments and heartbreaking ones.

Glad/sad seasons are not my favorite seasons of life. I have a hard time navigating the ups and downs of emotions. I find them exhausting, but I do find that they are the seasons that make me feel most alive. There is something about the stark difference in the blessing moments and trial moments that build in us a deeper gratitude, adjust our perspective, and make us appreciate the good days all the more.

 It seems October is a fitting month for a glad/sad season. Like the ever-changing weather of Pennsylvania autumns, we wake not sure what the day will bring. We have had our share of cold, grey days, but then when the sun breaks through the grey and spotlights the rainbow of colors that glow so brilliantly on display, there is such a sense of wonder and gratitude for the blessings.

 Within the struggles we have much to be grateful for!

 And even on the sad days, the hard days, the “I feel so alone days”  God is still there,

 And God is still good!

 On Friday we participated in our annual tradition of wandering through Cool Springs Corn Maze.

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This is always one of my favorite outings of the year. I don’t know what it is about corn mazes that bring me such joy. I love everything about them. I love the smells, the nip in the air, the beauty of the yellow stalks against the blue sky. I love the camaraderie of navigating the maze with friends and the challenge of finding your way back to the entrance…

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 And I love the spiritual analogy that can be found in the journey and how that fun, fall activity can be likened to our mortal journey here on earth.

 Let us consider the journey of navigating a corn maze as seen through spiritual eyes:

 When we arrive we are given a map.

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 While a bit basic and vague, the map gives you a good general overview of the design of the corn maze and paths found within.

 It highlights important stops along the way where additional information can be found.

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 Everyone begins their journey with the same instructions, the same directions, and the same warnings.

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 We all step onto the path and enter through the same gate.

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 From there everyone’s journey differs greatly.

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 Some have an easier time than others, either because of innate skills or because they were blessed with a directionally talented group to travel with.

 Some choose to travel alone, and some travel alone because they have no one to walk with.

 I can testify that traveling with a group is the key to successful navigating. The support of others, the opportunity to learn from others who have gone before you, or simply the opportunity to work with others to solve problems you encounter along the way, makes all the difference.

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 It is a lot more overwhelming and can be a bit frightening to journey alone.

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 (And not nearly as much fun!)

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 Some choose to use the map provided while others discard the map. Some because they feel they don’t need it, others because they choose to wander more aimlessly.

 Either way, they soon discover the error of their ways when they have traveled deep enough into the cornfield that the entrance and exit are out of sight.

It is there in the middle of our journey that we are most likely to get turned around and lost.

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 Suddenly we find ourselves traveling the same loop over and over again, uncertain of how to get off it, or find ourselves facing another dead end.

 Moments like these can be disheartening.

It can be a morale-crusher to find that after all the time and energy spent walking those paths that you haven’t gotten anywhere.

Knowing that we have been working hard to make it safely to the end only to find ourselves facing a wall of cornstalks on a path that leads nowhere is heartbreaking. It can makes the most seasoned travelers want to sit down and cry.

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 But quitting is not an option…

 In life or in corn mazes.

 We can’t just take a seat, declare we won’t be moving any further, and simply live out the remainder of our days in the middle of the corn maze.

 It is in those moments our mettle is tested. We must pull ourselves up by our “oh so muddy” boot straps and find perspective and direction.

 How does one do that?

 1.  Well if we were wise enough to hold onto our map that would be a good place to start. The Lord never asked us to navigate mortality blindly and has lovingly given us all the guidance and direction we seek when lost, if we but stop and read His instructions.

2.  We could ask those who travel with us for help. The Lord knew how trying life would be. He never wanted us to have to navigate the challenges alone. He placed people around us that He knew we would need to listen to us, cry with us, council us, walk with us, and help us find our way back to Him. These people are our friends, our family, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even when we think we are wandering alone in a maze of confusion, surrounded by walls on all sides, and feeling utterly hopeless, if we would just call out for help rescuers would come charging in.

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 But the most effective tool when lost in a corn maze is also the simplest…

 Ready??

 “Look Up!”

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 When you are in the middle of the maze, surrounded by a 10-foot-tall wall of corn on all sides, it is easy to lose all sense of direction. But if you stop, and look up at the celestial body overhead, the Sun, and where it rests in the sky, can show you which way to go.

The view from above isn’t confusing. It isn’t distorted. It is so clear. The Lord sees our journey from a celestial perspective. While we don’t have that same aerial view, we can trust that the view of our life plan from above is awesome.

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 We may not see the whole picture, but He does!

 If we but ask, He will lead us through.

 I know that to be true.

 I just sometimes need to be reminded.

 If you find yourself in a corn maze or lost in a life maze it is important to remember that all the tools needed to navigate this unknown world have been given us.

 Use them.

 Trust in them.

 Keep walking.

 Keep trying.

 And don’t forget to

 Look Up!

 

Trunk or Treat- Plan B

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This past Saturday did not go as planned.

It was a “Plan B” sort of day.

The original plan for the day was to host our church’s trunk or treat and fall party at Patchwork Farm. This has become a fun fall tradition. We begin the night with Trunk or Treat, where the kids trick or treat from decorated parked car to decorated parked car down our long driveway.

That is followed by a pot luck dinner of soups. chili and bread with hot apple cider to drink. Throughout the yard there are activities and games for the kids, a bonfire to warm hands and roast marshmallows, and  hay rides in the dark.

The last few weeks we have been stealing every free minute we had to prepare for this big activity. We have assembled games, prepared the yard, and decorated the house.

(Entertaining, as painfully hard as it is for me, gives me the needed push to accomplish long overdue tasks…like decorating for fall!)

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We were just about ready for the big day.

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The last thing to decide was: what to do for our trunk or treat vehicle. The girls offered to man our car so I could organize the arriving crock pots and Toby could direct traffic. They decided that instead of decorating the family van that they would use the school bus that we are in the process of converting to an RV. They decided to dress as Ms. Frizzle and one of her students, and hand out candy from The Magic School Bus. 🙂

Unfortunately they never had the chance…

Saturday brought rainstorms…Ugh.

At 11:00 am the call was made to move the fall party to the church, and those of us in charge of the party had five hours to plan, shop, and somehow transform the gym at church into a fall festival.

The first stop was the dollar store where I bought all those wonderfully tacky/fun Halloween decorations that I never buy for my own home. I must admit I had a lot of fun decorating for Halloween in a new way. With the decorations brought from our homes and $63.00 spent at the Dollar Store we were able to transform the gym.

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Then I drove to the church where I met Toby and the kids and the other ladies that shared the responsibility for making this event happen. Everyone worked so hard setting up tables, decorating the gym, frosting cupcakes, setting up the game stations, and  preparing for the trunk or treat (that would now be held inside.) In a matter of hours a magical transformation occurred. I couldn’t believe it came together in time!

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The “chandelier”

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God is Good!

Then people began arriving for trunk or treat. The trunk or treat was arranged to take place indoors due to rain. As families arrived they were assigned a classroom door to decorate and pass candy from. It was fun to see how everyone rallied with Plan B creativity and car decorations became doorway decorations.

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The girls were still planning to man our doorway for us and hand out treats on behalf of our family but the Magic School Bus idea no longer worked…(It just didn’t have the same impact without the school bus. 🙂

So they came up with their own plan B. While they were face painting for Chippewa Township’s community day celebration earlier in the day they talked about what their new theme should be. Inspired by the corn maze the day before they decided to do a Dinosaur themed doorway. They dressed as explorers and decorated with ferns and Dinosaurs with the Jurassic Park theme music playing in the background. They looked so cute!

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The indoor trunk or treat worked out very well. The turnout was great and it was fun to check out the decorations and the costumes everyone came up with.

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The theme for the party seemed to be group costumes with some great family costumes. We had Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the cast of Napoleon Dynamite, Cinderella’s (not so ugly)  ugly step sisters, adorable characters from The Wizard of Oz, and the Despicable Me crew.

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Our group costume never came together. I thought we’d have time to run home, shower, change, and finish assembling our costumes after getting ready for the party, but there was no time, so the girls raided the dress up box during their stop at home and pulled together a costume for each of their brothers to wear. Thank goodness for a well stocked dress up box!

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Tyler liked having an excuse to wear his football uniform. :)

Tyler liked having an excuse to wear his football uniform. 🙂

After “trunk or treat” the party began, starting with dinner.

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Everyone went all out and there was an abundance of yummy food. If anyone went home hungry it was by their own choosing. 🙂

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Dessert was delicious!

The best cupcakes...EVER!

The best cupcakes…EVER!

While parents chatted, the kids had the opportunity to play games located around the gym.

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There was Bowling for Ghosts:

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Halloween Bingo:

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Jack O Lantern drawing:

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Photo Booth:

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Guess How Many game:

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Needle in the Haystack:

Toby. aka Mr. Potato Head, hiding candy in the hay.

Toby. aka Mr. Potato Head, hiding candy in the hay.

and Face Painting (which Grace and Molly volunteered to head up):

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Ozzie got a puppy face.

Ozzie got a puppy face.

It was a fun night and in the end the move indoors was a good call. The rain came down heavy at Patchwork Farm and would have made for a wet, cold, muddy evening.

Granted it wasn’t quite the same experience without the farm animals, bonfire, and hay rides, but it ended up being a fun fall evening,

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made all the better by the wonderful families that participated!

Land of the Lost

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One of my very favorite autumn traditions is wandering through a corn maze.

 I love the “Alice in Wonderland” feel of shrinking beneath the tops of the leaves and wandering through the maze of tall stalks. It is a delightful sensation to wander and explore, never knowing what is around the next turn.

Never has the “next turn” held more unknown excitement than in this year’s corn maze at Cool Springs Corn Maze!

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“Look, it’s a dinosaur!”

Each year the Cool Spring farm chooses a new theme for its corn maze. They use that theme as the template for the design the cut into the corn field, as well as the décor used around the farm.

This year the theme was dinosaurs,

but not just any dinosaurs…

The theme this year was “Land of the Lost.”

Who remembers this childhood TV show?

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“The Marshalls – widowed ranger father Rick, and his two children Will and Holly – are on an outdoor expedition like they have many times before. While rafting on this trip, an earthquake opens up a chasm resulting in them tumbling across some raging rapids and over an unknown waterfall. They end up alive but in a world unfamiliar to them, a world they will ultimately coin the Land of the Lost. It is inhabited by creatures some they have never seen or heard of, and some which no longer exist in the world they knew back home, creatures such as dinosaurs. They will find that some of these creatures are friendly, and some of them which they need to stay away from for their lives. As they eke out a life in this strange land, they try to understand what got them here so that they can make their way back home, that process which is fraught with its own dangers based on the unknowns of what is on the path to home.”  -IMDb

It was a Saturday morning favorite of mine when I was a kid!!

We couldn’t wait to check it out.

We arrived Friday morning at 10:00 am, after picking up Lana’s family in our van and caravanning with Nicole’s family there. At Cool Springs we met up with two other co-op families. Before we began enjoying all the fun that Cool Springs has to offer we took advantage of some photo ops.

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The co-op crew

Miss Molly is finally coming our of her shell!

Miss Molly is finally coming out of her shell!

Warning, kids!

Warning, kids!

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…and let’s keep it that way!

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Let the adventure begin!

Our day at Cool Spring Maze began with the corn maze.

Here is the aerial view of this year’s corn maze:

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Before entering the maze everyone is given a map to help guide them through the maze.

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The stars on the map mark the locations of the stations you need to find, stop at, and answer questions about dinosaurs at

 to fill in the crossword puzzle on the back of the map.

Molly at one of the stations.

Molly at one of the stations.

Each of my kids approach a corn maze differently. Some follow the map, determined to find every station, be the first to find all the answers, and be the first out of the maze. Others focus on the journey, caring less about the destination, and simply enjoy the experience of wandering through the corn. Then there is Tyler who could care less about the stations or the map and just loves running as fast as he can through the twists and turns of the maze.

I find that how they navigate the maze is a pretty accurate reflection on how they navigate life. I have some kids that are leaders, some that are content to follow, some that are prone to wandering, and those who stay on task. I have some children that meander through their day and those that always choose to run rather than walk. Some of my kids that have been blessed with the gift of enjoying the journey and living in the present, and some that have been blessed with the gift of determination and focus and are always planning three moves ahead. It is funny to see how their personality traits shine forth in the midst of a corn maze.

Rusty trying to sell Tyler on the benefits of following his map. :)

Rusty trying to sell Tyler on the benefits of following a map. 🙂

As we moved through the corn maze the kids all split up to wander the maze with their friends. Rusty joined Lucas and Alton and headed in one direction:

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Tyler joined the big girls’ team:

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The moms, Ozzie, Saga, and Joanna were a team, with Tauni, our fearless leader, guiding us along. 🙂

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When we exited the corn maze we found ourselves standing next to a life-size board game. Much like the game  “Candyland,” the players spin individual game spinners that guide them through the game board via colored squares. The kids had a lot of fun being the game pieces:

Miss Saga

Miss Saga

Ozzie liked the tractor.

Ozzie liked the tractor.

After the corn maze and the outdoor board game we headed over to the gem mining. The cost to do the gem mining was an extra $3.00 above the cost of admission, so I told the kids that if they wanted to do the gem mining they would have to use their own money. Grace, Molly, Rusty and Tyler chose to participate and walked away with all sorts of pretty treasures…

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The rest of the day was spent eating the lunches we brought and enjoying all the other fun, free activities offered at the farm:

The crew

The crew

Fun with the pedal carts...

Fun with the pedal carts…

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The tube slides...

The tube slides…

Fun on the hay!

Fun on the hay!

One of the biggest hits of the day was the newly added bouncy pad.

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This giant trampoline became the final hangout of the day as the kids bounced to the music being played by a live DJ. They loved that they could request their favorite songs to bounce/dance to. It was all fun and games until Tyler and Joram collided mouth to scalp. Joram got a lump to the  head and Tyler walked away with a broken lower front tooth.

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That quickly brought and end to the fun. 😦

Everyone collected their complimentary pumpkins and said their good-byes..

Luckily, due to my past experience of having Ozzie’s broken teeth rebonded multiple times, I wasn’t too panicked.

I have their dentist on speed dial!

Unfortunately he had already left for the weekend so we will be having Tyler’s tooth fixed later this week.

But, all in all, the injury was minor compared to what could have been,

after all, we were in the

Land of the Lost!

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Christmas in the Woods

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All bundled up for a fun day outside.

All bundled up for a fun day outside.

I am late in posting these photos, but better late than never…right?

Christmas in the Woods is now over but we were happy to make it this year after a few years of missing it due to the life changes that come with adopting little boys. Christmas in the Woods, as much as we enjoy it, really isn’t their scene. Oh, how far we have come to be able to attend an event like this and have everything go smoothly,

without incident,

and have everyone leave smiling!

Christmas in the Woods is the ultimate “craft show.” It takes place in eastern Ohio in the woods (hence the name.) It features a village of cottages, each housing a different artisan selling their wares. Everything is handcrafted. There is everything from jewelry, up-cycled products, art work, hand sewn products, whimsical décor,  yummy edibles, hand carved wooden spoons, etc.

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However, as fun as the shopping is, that is not what brings us back year after year. It is the atmosphere. The sounds, smells and tastes of autumn as it welcomes in Christmas. It is a charming place to spend the day and we were excited to be back.

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When we arrived Toby paid for us to get in while I handed out scavenger hunt sheets. I knew this really wasn’t the boys’ scene so I thought I’d make it more fun for them (thus making it more enjoyable for the rest of us) by creating a scavenger hunt list of items they needed to find as we walked around the woods.

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The boys embraced the challenge immediately, and even the girls had fun participating. I promised a treat at the end for those they found all the items on their list!

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When we entered the gates we heard a familiar sound. We followed the music to an outdoor stage where one of our favorite holiday performers was entertaining the crowd:

B.E. Taylor!

B.E. Taylor!

What a fun treat. We LOVE B.E. Taylor! We found a spot to stand and enjoy the free concert.

The kids loving the show.

The kids loving the show.

The chill in the air, the smell of cinnamon and pine, and the beautiful Christmas music left us feeling the Spirit of the season.

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Everyone had fun wandering from booth to booth, checking out the wares and tasting the samples. The food booths where they offered samples of the different dip mixes were definitely the favorite booths of my boys!

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While we ended up mainly window shopping (with the exception of a few small purchases by the girls) I found the atmosphere got my creative juices flowing and I was overcome with the desire to go home and decorate for fall.

(It’s about time…right?!)

Molly enjoying some hauntingly beautiful music...

Molly enjoying some hauntingly beautiful music…

By the end of the day everyone was chilled and ready for a warm treat. Our final stop was a hot cocoa booth where they were selling homemade hot cocoa mixes. I told the kids that their scavenger hunt prize was a package of hot cocoa mix that we would take home and enjoy while warming up. The kids loved trying all the samples they had for testing…

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We decided that white chocolate was our favorite.

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What a wonderful was to spend an autumn day as we look forward to the arrival of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas!

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Let your Light so Shine!

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pumpkin

Family night was all about pumpkin carving!

I love this time of year. October is my favorite month. Halloween is my favorite holiday…

and pumpkin carving is one of my favorite holiday traditions.

I love everything about it:

I love the hunt for the perfect pumpkin, the creative process of dreaming and drawing the design, and the secretive way everyone hides their designs from prying eyes until they are ready for the big reveal. I love the smell of fresh pumpkin, and the chilly sliminess of reaching into the open top to scoop out the guts. I love the squeals of disgust that fill the room as the kids clean the seeds out of their pumpkins. I love the talk and the chatter that happens as we all are busy with the process of creating.

But the best part, by far, is the reveal. I LOVE seeing what the children all come up with. I love the palpable excitement that is felt as the finished designs are revealed and carried out into the dark to shine in the night.

I love when the candles within are lit and these holiday creations come to life.

Here is a look into our pumpkin carving tradition:

Everyone gathered the free pumpkins they picked out on our school field trip last week.

Everyone gathered the free pumpkins they picked out on our school field trip last week.

First step: Cleaning out the guts!

First step: Cleaning out the guts!

My farm girl doesn't mind the slimy innards. :)

My farm girl doesn’t mind the slimy innards. 🙂

This year Tyler not only drew his design on the pumpkin but also carved it himself. (He used a safety knife)

This year Tyler not only drew his design on the pumpkin but also carved it himself. (He used a safety knife)

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Everyone busy at work…

Toby's goofy face...I'm talking about his pumpkin ;)

Toby’s goofy face…I’m talking about his pumpkin 😉

My five little pumpkins holding their completed Jack O' Lanterns.

My five little pumpkins holding their completed Jack O’ Lanterns.

The end result was magical when we added the candles and let their light shine…

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Let us all shine so brightly!

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