Friday, July 31, 2015

Freedom Fridge

 Many days recently, I have found Helena in the fridge. She's exploring and while I used to have a lock on the fridge to keep the kids out and from doing this exact thing, I no longer do.  Now it might just be because the lock broke and I haven't had time to fix it, but its interesting.  It doesn't bug me that she gets into it anymore.  The first two times around it did, thus the lock. But now, maybe I'm softening up, or maybe her personality is different but I no longer need the control. 
This has made me think about how I view things that need limits with my children. People say that kids do need boundaries and rules, but I think sometimes when it comes about always having a rule, and never breaking the rule or relaxing the rule, how do we learn. Don't get me wrong, I believe fully in self-control.  I honestly think our society sucks at this concept in general, but I'm being to ponder why.  I'm honestly not sure what all leads to this, there are so many contributing factors probably.  

I do think we do have limits and in some things we do need rules, but I think in our society we no longer are allowed to think for ourselves or think differently.  As much as we value our freedom, it feels like we are step by step taking it away to make us only be aloud to talk and think and do things one way.  I'm not so sure this is what was intended for us. 

So I was thinking about something, my oldest son, I would deem him an artist, a builder. He loves to create.  I let him draw on the iPad, and usually I regulate the time, but I'm wondering about this.  Because yes, there is such a thing as indulging in something to excess, but the time that I didn't regulate his time, he was able to really create.  He didn't just watch tv shows even though he had full access to them. So maybe its just that I have more kids and with more kids, you loosen up on things, but I'm seeing that control I thought I needed isn't necessary anymore. 

So maybe I'm just rethinking things, or learning.  I'm sure there is another side to it all, but this is where I am at today. And to finish it off, the eldest saw that the littlest could do something, so he did it too, only he is too big to just fit inside the bottom fridge part, so the freezer came open too.

People Trees

While snuggling post bath, I asked Ephraim what he wanted to be when he grows up this evening.

In an Ephraim like fashion he answered, "I don't want to be anything. But I want to grow like a tree. Yes, I want to be an apple tree, with apples on me."

Ben in his literal way chimed in, "Ephraim, you know you can pretend to be a tree during the day." Because he was referring to this, 

which is a tree person I told them I saw while roaming the gardens of the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

And so they are enthralled with the concept that you could really be a tree when you grow up.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Farm at Walnut Creek, definitely worth a visit!

I didn't know what to expect when we first pulled up to the Farm at Walnut Creek.  I had read some online about it being a zoo like experience in Amish Country, and I thought okay, why not try it it out.  My children love zoo animals, especially my middle guy. The best thing about the Farm at Walnut Creek was that it was so much more than just a zoo. And I think some of these pictures might just help you to see how amazing it was.

First we stopped off at the welcome post. And my boys loved trying out some of the unique toys that were placed around the store.  I almost have my MIL convinced to buy the horse drawn carriage toy for the boys for Christmas. The folks at the post were welcoming and there were very clean restrooms to refresh ourselves after our drive to out to the farm.

Next we made our drive over to the the wagon area so we could go to the animal encounters. To do this we chose to ride a wagon through the enclosed animal lands. You can take your care too, but we figured to get the whole experience and not have the hassle of driving along with viewing we thought the wagon would be best.  And I would highly recommend the wagon, it allowed you to be right next to the animals in an up close and personal way that I think a car might limit you in. But if you are a little animal shy a car would definitely keep you safe. But as they remind you, just don't hand feed the zebras! Here are some of the beautiful animals we were able to feed and observe on our adventure through the farm. 

I think it was a great reminder to us in the experience of just how gentle such large animals can be.  Even though they outsize us by a few hundred pounds, the animals were not scary at all but were just wanting to be our friends. My boys were a little timid of feeding the animals directly because they were so much bigger, but they could still get into the experience by throwing feed on the ground for the smaller animals or the more timid ones, or those beautiful but teethy zebras. 

The highlight for me of the wagon ride was definitely feeding the giraffes.  I had never been that close to a giraffe before and it was just so eye opening.  I loved it.  Though, just like us humans, they can drool too.  So watch out for some giraffe sized drool when feeding them. 

After the hour long wagon ride, we visited some of the smaller animals stationed nearby.  My kids favorite being turtle lovers were the tortoises of course.

We ended our experience with a stroll through the Amish model homes and just relaxed a bit while we ate our provided delicious cookie.

How cute is this small sized person chair?

Thank-you the Farm at Walnut Creek for a great first time experience!  We want to come back to visit again some time soon! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

No better

Sometimes I think we get just a little bit self righteous about our ideals being smashed into smithereens by other people.  And not that they are good ideals to uphold, but as a good friend told me today, you never can say what you would do in the same situation. And I think about this a lot because I think its great to uphold those ideals, its even better to give grace and mercy when we fail at them.

I say this because honestly, I screw up just as much as the next guy, if not more.  I am constantly saying the wrong thing to my children or getting angry or anxious about things outside of my control.  I mean just today I was ready to trade in my 3yo because he's been brutally mean to his baby sister the past few days. It was frustrating me that there was no voice of reason there in his actions, and I of course let him know that and probably not in the nicest of ways.  And here's the thing that right there, I was totally lacking self control and patience and understanding.  I failed at those virtues that are the same things that come into the bigger things, the things that come under attack in a bigger way for society.

I've been re-reading/listening to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and in reading it this time it stuck out to me the three types of morality.  The first being to another person, the second being to oneself and that third to God.  Its an interesting viewpoint of it, especially in a society of today where we are struggle so much with the first type that I'm not even sure two and three have any chance at being explored anytime soon. Morality in to another simply means that we do everything in our power to not harm our neighbor.  And most people are probably stuck here, I know I am most the time. The next is morality to ourselves, so we have taking care of not harming others, but what about the damage we do to ourselves.  Sometimes, I'm not even sure I understand this one, except that I know that decisions that we make for ourselves even if no one else is involved can really form or break us. And the last in the morality to God.  In some ways it feels like this is connected to the first two, because well at least to me, they are relative to one another.  Anyway, before it get in over my head, its interesting to consider morality in this way. It feels much more dependent on God's standard than what our society makes it out to be.

But I think its important to remember in life, that no matter how together someone may seem, they still struggle just like you.  That a certain IQ or job title doesn't really put someone above making mistakes or acting out of character. We still all have to fight our concupiscence, and its good to remember that. It might just be a different battle to fight than your own. So be kind if you can, and if you screw up in judgement, well ask for forgiveness and keep pressing on. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

NYC Day 2

The second day of our NYC trip was spent in Manhattan.  We took our first subway ride that morning to Central Park.  I may have mentioned this before, but I actually like public transit, so riding the subway was fun to me, maybe this is why my boys like it too. Who knows, so we rode from Herald Square to the south west corner of Central Park, because there was a big playground there and better yet, there was an awesome rock left over from the Paleozoic Era, called Umpire Rock. It reminded me a little bit of Devil's Den in Gettysburg, one of my favorite places in this country, so I was an instant fan.  The kids spotted the playground adjacent to the rock area, so I got left with the stroller to cart around, but I got to hike on it again and actually helped out a sweet young guy that wanted to take a picture in the exact spot that his girlfriend did at an earlier time. So all in all, it worked out okay. The play ground was nice and it had water running through a decent amount of it so that was pretty sweet for the kiddos. Here are some shots from that.

Brother rock exploration
Water fun
To the playground thru the secret rock entrance
Stuck with a baby and a stroller
We then subwayed it up to a more northern part of the park to check out Belvedere Castle, which showed us some beautiful views of the city and other parts of Central Park, which is pretty huge for just a city park. My one beef about central park was there were always people about, despite being in nature you were always with people, but this may just be because its in Manhattan after all. It did have some awesome things in it, I think we could have spent a week just in the park itself. 

Well at least I'm looking at the camera
On top of the castle
View from the castle
We then took the bus back and went down the famous 5th avenue.  And then after we had a break we headed over to the High Line over in the Chelsea district of Manhattan.  Its a really cool park that was an old railroad that was repurposed.  It was beautiful despite the iffy weather. We oddly got the a wondering remark if we were from the USA because we were traveling with three small children, and the women didn't see that often.  She told us we were brave to do so, and maybe we were or maybe we are just crazy.  I'll go with the latter, but hopefully I'm a little bit brave too. But to validate her remark, it was extremely rare to see 3 closely spaced children in the city.  At least on the peninsula, I'm sure there are larger families in the other boroughs, but not so much in the center hub, and honestly when you look at most cities this is true.  But its just so drastically such there, because again so many people crammed into so little space. So here's the High Line.

Part 3 another day.  Part one can be found here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A post New York City reflection day 1

Leading up to our NYC trip, I'm not sure exactly I was thinking. Maybe I was preoccupied with packing, but then the day before I came down with a sinus migraine which left me in a position to mope or to lower my expectations. I did a little of both. Nothing was really planned for our trip except we had a way in and out of the city and a place to stay while there. We knew we were going to use public transit while there and we had borrowed an awesome compact double stroller system for the kids, so we did. We had spent the better part of the year learning about cities, and so it just felt like we needed to go and be in the city of cities, at least as my kids know it.

Here we go, go, go on an adventure!
Was I nervous about bringing my little family to a an almost unfamiliar city? Of course. My number one fear was losing one of the little people. Which honestly made no sense because in Manhattan where the sidewalks are overcrowded, the kids automatically such close by in a stroller or a carrier. And probably part of that was Keith and I wanting them to do so. Our main rule of the city was to hold a hand or be in the stroller, the kids totally complied. But goodness does Manhattan have a lot of people! It made me think how much space we really have in Cleveland.

So we got to the city thru Penn station on Amtrak. It was a pretty fun trip, and probably the only time on land that I've gone 120mph. Coming out of Penn station, we were a bit lost. Arriving underground, we had no bearings and since it's Penn station, there were people everywhere, it made us a bit frazzled and so as soon as we did make it out and got our directions straight, I beelined the kids and Keith the luggage to the hotel. I think the initial lost feeling really screwed with my head for a bit, but at the hotel we regrouped and we actually had a very nice, very spacious hotel room for midtown Manhattan. If you ever stay in the city, I recommend The Herald Square Hotel. The staff was very accommodating and friendly.

That evening we went out and walked around our surrounding area, around the Empire State building, into a three story H&M to buy the kids socks. Because somehow in the packing, the children's socks were left behind. I had some great paella at a small street vendor in Herald Square, and then we walked up to Bryant park where they were setting up to have a movie on the lawn in front of the library. The boys rode a carousel and then we finished the night with ice cream in Koreatown. A good first day in the city.

The guy that does Humans of New York, does a pretty great job giving a portrait of the individuals there. There is so much humanity packed in the city, so many stories and we all matter. We are all made in the image of God, and I felt like in this city, the flare, the beauty of the individual came out. While I'm sure they have their own battles with trying try fit in, it seemed like there was less of that and more of people trying to stand out. And I wonder if that comes from there being so many people there, that one feels like you have to make your mark to be noticed or cared about. This may be true, but to me it emphasized how amazingly awesome God is to create humanity in such a way that we can all be so different in our expressions of self and yet we are all children of Him too. One big crazy, diverse family of humanity.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The wedding verse

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
1 Corinthians 14:4-7

If you go to a few weddings in your lifetime, you are likely to hear these verses read aloud. And while I could probably go into how this parallels marriage, I won't. Instead, I have something else I've been pondering with these verses in my head.

You see, I'm someone who takes it that each action in life is connected, and because of that, these verses have become to mean so much in the past few weeks. I took that pause from social media, and it helped to see that maybe I wasn't really living that out.

I could see that at times, it's easier to force something to happen than it is to be patient for it to come. I could see that I got angry because things weren't going my way. And that I was tired, tired because I wanted out, I wanted peace, but the peace I sought was not right kind of peace. The peace I wanted was to make it all better in my mind, instead I need to find peace that God is always here, to trust that because he is love, he can't give up on me and he won't.

But for now, it may just be a perspective change, to be at peace amongst the chaos and the crazy. To know that I am okay, loved and can have hope in Him.