Tag Archives: corn maze

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!

 

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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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!

 

A week of field trips

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This week is our week of field trips! We teach our children at home with the use of cyber charter schools. We have been schooling our children this way for the last 10 years and up until last year all the kids attended the same school. Last year we made some changes. In an effort to better meet the needs of each child we separated them into different schools that better fit each child. Grace and Rusty belong to one school, Molly to another and Tyler to a different one. Ozzie attends our local public school, at least for now. With three different schools comes many field trip opportunities. This week we had three separate field trips all hit in one week. Yesterday was a field trip with 21st Century Cyber School- Grace and Rusty’s school.

Since Grace and Rusty’s school is headquartered on the east side of the state just outside of Philadelphia most of the outing that are offered are too far to travel to, so when they come west we try to make an effort to attend. For my kids, whose interaction with teachers is primarily via the computer, the opportunity to meet teachers face to face is a treat. Yesterday Grace was able to meet her World Geography teacher:

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And Rusty was able to meet his home room teacher:

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Our field trip was to Simmons farm. A beautiful local farm located just south of Pittsburgh. It was about an hour drive for us to get there.

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When we arrived we were surprised to find that only two other families had signed up. The small number, however, made for a fun, intimate day with those who attended. The kids were able to really get to know their teachers and get a lot of undivided attention. 🙂

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The day began with a hayride out to the fields where we were allowed to all pick a pumpkin to take home:

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We were amazed by the large selection of HUGE pumpkins to pick from. The kids all went in search of the largest pumpkin they could find. When I stipulated that they must be able to carry their own pumpkin back to the car Tyler set down the large pumpkin he was carrying and exchanged it for something smaller. The big kids, however, picked the largest pumpkins they could find!

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The day was full of fun activities at the farm. There were slides, games, hay mazes and rock mazes…

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One of the biggest hits of the day, however, were the petal carts. The teachers decided it would be fun to race them. Round one was the teachers pushing the students…

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Round two: the students pushed the teachers. 🙂

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After lunch we headed, as a group, into the corn maze. Unlike our last corn maze, this corn maze did not come with a map. This led to a lot of aimless wandering before we found our way to the exit. 🙂 Tyler loved it!

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The day ended with complementary apple cider and apples picked at the farm. They were both delicious and tasted like fall!

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It was a beautiful day at a beautiful farm.

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Thank you 21st Century Cyber School!

Today we have two more field trips lined up…This time with Molly’s school.

“Not all those who wander are lost”

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J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “Not all those who wander are lost.” No place is this more true than in a corn maze.  Those who know me know that I have a special love for corn mazes.  I don’t know what it is but there is something magical about wandering through the high corn on uncharted paths that makes me feel like Alice on a Wonderland adventure.  It is like stumbling into a secret world and becoming 10 years old again…I get absolutely giddy.  This weekend Molly’s school sponsored an outing at a corn maze that I just couldn’t resist  taking the family to.  We had just finished a busy week as Gracie pushed to get all the work she needed for the first quarter done by 4:00pm Friday so an evening at a corn maze seemed like a fun way to celebrate  a great first quarter of school.

Coolspring Corn Maze

Coolspring Corn Maze

 The corn maze we went to was located in Mercer county and was about an hour drive for us. The kids and I had visited this corn maze last year but Toby had never been there before. The drive there took us through beautiful farmland colored with fall leaves. Along the way we passed many Amish families in buggies. We were all dressed extra warmly because the temperature had dropped and it was only getting colder as the evening went on. When we arrived and stepped out of the car it was a fall feast for the senses…there were beautiful fall decorations to look at, the sound of children laughing and calling to each other, and the air was filled with the smell of hot apple cider and pumpkin donuts.

Miss Molly

Miss Molly

The theme for this year’s corn maze was “The American Cowboy.”  The maze was cut out in the shape of a rodeo rider.

An aerial view of the cornmaze.

An aerial view of the corn maze.

The kids decided that they wanted to enjoy some of the extra activities that the farm offered while the sun was still shining and then do the maze after it got a bit darker. They had never done a nighttime maze before and were looking forward to navigating the paths using only the flashlights they brought. There were very few people there. I think the cold weather probably scared a lot of customers off, so we didn’t have to battle any crowds. The kids headed first to the hay barn to climb and play tag on the stacks of hay bales. Toby and I had fun watching them play and visiting uninterrupted. 🙂

Playing on the hay.

Playing on the hay.

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We then headed to the pedal tractors where the boys did a few laps around the track.

"Go Speed Racer!"

“Go Speed Racer!”

Toby then took them over to the pumpkin cannon where he let each of them try their hand at pumpkin blasting.  The field was set up with wooden zombies.  If you hit the wooden zombie in the bullseye with a pumpkin you won a T-shirt.  None of the kids hit the bullseye (Rusty was the closest) but they all had fun trying!

Tyl.er and Toby with the pumpkin cannon

Tyler and Toby with the pumpkin cannon

Molly shooting pumpkins.

Molly shooting pumpkins.

The next stop was the hayride which we decided to pass on.  We thought it was too cold to sit still for a half an hour on the back of a wagon, so after a quick visit to the bathrooms we headed into the corn maze.  Tyler wanted to lead the way and since we had no time limits or planned destination we let him.  We wandered for about 30 minutes, following his lead, as he consulted his map with the flashlight.  Finally, in exasperation, he threw up his hands and said, “I can’t read this thing!” Holding up his map we realized that he had been “following” the crossword puzzle on the back of the map rather than the map of the corn maze.  Rusty decided to take over as point man. 🙂

Tyler in the lead...

Tyler in the lead…

Those who wander..

Those who wander..

As part of the corn maze experience there were posts located around the corn maze with historical facts about cowboys and the Wild West.  The goal was to find all these posts using your map and fill in the answers to the crossword puzzle on the back.  The kids had a lot of fun with this and we got a little history time logged as well. 😉  After about an hour of wandering through the corn we came to the exit which dropped us off at a life-size board game. It was very cool. Using paving stones they had created a Chutes and Ladders sort of game.  Using a spinner the kids moved around the game as human game pieces. Molly won the game.

Finding clues...

Finding clues…

A life size game!

A life size game!

Sisters!

Sisters!

When we were all done playing we walked back up to the hay barn so that the kids could play for a bit longer before we left for home.  Toby stopped at the concession stand and bought everyone a homemade pumpkin donut to enjoy  before we left.  They were delicious!  A sweet ending to an “a-MAZE-ing” evening. 🙂

YUM!

YUM!