Sunday, June 20, 2010

S is for Sesame Place

Yesterday we took a little mini family "vacation" to Sesame Place. The fun started the moment we left the house as we picked up breakfast at Chick-fil-a and grooved to music in the car. We were having so much fun on our drive that we failed to grab a ticket as we got on the Turnpike and ended up having to pay the maximum toll amount ($24.50) when we got off not even 30 miles later. But that wasn't about to ruin our mood.

We arrived at the park before it opened and had plenty of time to get covered in sunscreen and stand in line at the gate for a bit. As we waited to enter, Kylie amused us by pointing out the fact that she could see Elmo and "Big Tweet" every 5 seconds. The day was already worth it's weight in gold, just hearing her enthusiasm.

Once in the park we decided to do the "dry" rides and activities first. We hit up the carousel, Big Bird's Balloon Race, and Ernie's Bed Bounce before heading indoors to catch the Elmo's World Live show. The show was exactly like the segment on Sesame Street, complete with Dorothy and Mr. Noodle. The show was fun, but I found myself watching my girls more than the show itself because their faces were priceless as they watched Elmo move about the stage.

After the show we went to the "Nets and Climbs" area where Jim braved the mazes of climbing nets with both Kyra and Kylie. We should've known Kyra would be right at home here, but in the moment we underestimated Kyra's climbing skills and temporarily lost her as she got ahead of Jim (who was moving at "Kylie pace"). Fortunately, just before I reached the "panic because my daughter has been missing for 5 minutes" stage, she came out of nowhere and met up with Jim and Kylie. We decided at that moment that it was time to move on to something else. Jim suffered some cuts and pulled muscles as he tried to maneuver out of the netting with Kylie sitting on his lap, but he took it like a man.

Jim took the girls to the Peek-a-Bug ride as I held a spot in the long line for Elmo's Flying Fish ride. After they finished their bug ride, Kylie began to let us know it was getting close to lunch time by melting down as we waited in line for the next ride. We managed to survive the long line and revived our smiles as we "flew" in fun Elmo fish.

We headed to Elmo's Eatery and were lucky enough to find a table at which to scarf down some chicken fingers and pizza on super cute reusable Elmo plates. After lunch we changed into our swimwear and headed out into the heat to enjoy some of the water attractions. We started out at Ernie's Waterworks, but Kylie made it clear that she needed some water to splash around in, not to run through, so we headed for the Count's Splash Castle. It had a bunch of fun slides and water spraying EVERY which way, but for Kylie the best part was the fact that the whole thing was a giant wading pool about 6 inches deep. Kyra and daddy did one of the water slides and then mommy took a turn with Kyra.

As we waited in line for the slide, I thought about just making sure Kyra got on okay and then walking back down the stairs to the bottom. When we made it to the top, it was so crowded that I realized going on the slide myself would be the faster, easier route down. I sent Kyra down and then it was my turn. In the few seconds I sat at the top I felt awkward. I hadn't been on any water slides or roller coasters or rides that go upside down (or even faster than 5 mph) in around 4 years. Not because I don't like rides, but just because being pregnant or toting babies around hadn't really afforded me the chance to do any of that stuff in a while. Halfway down the slide I suddenly remembered just how much I enjoyed rides like this one. And it occurred to me that I had missed them. I was so elated to be going down a water slide at that moment!

After we'd had all the chlorine we could handle, we dried off and Jim and I were discussing whether or not it was time to head home. Suddenly, Kyra blurted out, "But I didn't see Big Bird yet!" So with that, we headed to Main Street and made it just in time to catch the parade and see ALL the Sesame Street gang. With the girls perched on each of our shoulders, we came within arms reach of most of our favorite muppets. Again, it was fun to watch the girls as they sat mesmerized by everything.

Finally, the parade ended, we grabbed a few frozen treats, and headed for home. It had been a very eventful day and we were all exhausted, but it was a good exhaustion. The kind that only comes from having fun and making memories with your family.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pet Peeves

We all have them. Things that bother us. Things that may bother no one else but us. Especially when it comes to a family member, or more precisely, your spouse.

I am no different. I have my short list of pet peeves on my husband. Listening to AM radio stations when they're nothing but static, for example. However, this post is not about that.

I'm actually about to tell on myself here. There is one thing (well, more than one, but let's not go crazy here) that I do that really drives Jim NUTS. You ready for this?

I very seldom finish a can of soda.

This fact has my husband climbing up the walls of our house. It frustrates him. He just doesn't understand it. And every time he asks me about it, there is really no logical explanation for it.

Not only do I not finish drinking the can, I also tend to leave it sitting on the kitchen counter for hours, maybe days sometimes. I'll go to throw it out, but at the last minute decide to leave it sitting there JUST IN CASE I want to finish it later. And then I never do. So a lot of the time Jim is the one who ends up dumping a half can of warm soda down the sink.

This has been an ongoing issue since we got married almost 8 years ago. Jim has questioned it, challenged it, tried to figure it out, but above all he has kindly tolerated it for all that time. A couple of weeks ago, however, Jim actually did something to try to fix the "problem".

He and Kyra made a quick run into the grocery store to pick up a few things for Memorial Day. When they came back, Jim had Kyra proudly display the special soda they had bought for Mommy. It was an 8 pack of 7.5 oz cans of Coke Zero. According to Jim's calculations, these were the perfect "Kesh size" cans. It sort of felt like a practical joke, only it really was practical.

Jim warned me that he better not find any of these miniature cans half full sitting around or he would go crazy. I was VERY tempted over the next several days to leave one out just to see what would transpire. At one point I even thought about drinking the entire can and then filling it with water to just give the appearance of the wasted soda, however, I resisted both of these temptations.

I did manage to finish every one of the 8 mini cans only to return to the normal 12 oz size and once again fail at finishing them. I have no rhyme or reason why this happens. The best I can figure is that I don't have time to chug a 12 oz can in one sitting and by the time I return to it it's warm and no longer refreshing, so I leave it. Why I can't seem to dump it down the sink, knowing that I won't finish it later, is an even bigger mystery.

So there you have it. My little tattle-tale on myself. It's quirky, I know. But it's the quirky things that make life interesting, right?

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Our pastor is always talking about how he doesn't like the question, "Where do you go to church?", because church isn't a place. WE, as followers of Christ, are the church. However, we do have a place, a building, we go to to worship and fellowship with others who are also part of the church. This post is about that place.

For the past 4ish years, our weekly gatherings were in a building that belonged to someone else. We shared the space peacefully during that time, but God apparently had somewhere else He wanted us to be. In 2008 the executive team at Providence (our "church") made a list of things they wanted in a building if we were going to move to a new location. In the borough of West Chester (where God called our pastors to reach out to the community) only one building met every requirement. The asking price: $3 million. This wasn't an amount we could afford. So, our leadership team trusted God and waited.

The price went down to $2.7 million. Still, it was out of budget. Over the next 18 months the price continued to drop. $2.4 million. Then $1.8 million. Next down to $1.4 million. We ended up closing on the building for one million dollars, one-third of the original asking price. The owner said he would not have sold it to anyone else for such a low price. He wanted us to have this building. More importantly, God wanted us to have this building.

The top level of the building had been used for banquets and weddings and was absolutely gorgeous. It would need some electrical work done, a sound booth, a stage and a few other things to convert it into a "sanctuary", but it was definitely doable. The second floor, however, had been home to the Italian Social Club and had a bar larger than my family room smack in the middle of the great room. This was where our Children's Ministry was destined to be located.

It became a running joke, the huge bar in our church. We'd joke about putting the babies behind the bar to play or serving drinks to the kids for snack time. But in reality, those of us responsible for the Children's Ministry had to figure out a way to make it feel less like a dingy bar (without removing the actual bar) and more like an exciting place to learn about Jesus.

We did walk-thrus and talk-thrus. We made and changed plans. Finally we came to a decision and had our tasks laid out before us to begin the transformation.

Part one: cleaning, repairing, replacing, altering, building, painting, carpeting. We had a work day planned. We planned on having only 6 of us there to do all the massive amounts of work on our list. But God's plans are bigger and better. We had so many people show up with willing attitudes and happy hearts. And things got done!

Part two: decorating, packing, moving, supplying, unpacking. It was in this stage we realized how little toys/games/materials we actually had of our own. Rooms looked empty. Walls looked bare. Thankfully God gives everyone different talents and we are blessed to have organizers along with creative minds involved in our Children's Ministry. Rooms and walls did not stay empty for long.

Part three: just add kids. Tonight, we had our first meeting in our new building. It was awesome. Seeing the faces of the parents and children as they looked around and discovered all the fun, new things. Their new classrooms. In OUR new building. That God provided. Having the kids there tonight in their respective classrooms for the first service, a special celebration service, was the final touch.

We are where God has destined us to be. We are in His Providence.