Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Fall, Y'all: Day Trip to Brevard

Every year we try to do a corn maze/pumpkin patch trip with the kids.  This year, I found a deal for Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Patch on Groupon, and Jay approved since it was near Brevard, so we bought the tickets and planned a day trip.  It was a full day of fun for everyone!

On our way, we made a pit stop in Marion. Jay's Graphics students at MTCC do a mural in downtown Marion a few times a year, so we went by to see it in person.  This is my favorite one so far: huge pumpkins, candy corn, and a cornucopia. The kids loved it, too. Arwen had her picture made with Snoopy and Woodstock, and Wake wanted a picture rolling one of the giant pumpkins. 

After the pit stop in Marion, it was time to head on up to Brevard.  Jay had taken the kids to the toy store there a while back to buy a slot car track (don't ask) and had raved about their downtown. For once, he was right.  Our first order of business was to get lunch.  We weren't sure whether to try out Mayberry's or Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop, so we took the extra time to walk to both and check out their menus.  In the end, we chose to have lunch at Mayberry's and stop in at the Soda Shop later for ice cream because Rocky's was pretty busy.  In the end, it was the right call. At Mayberry's, you walk in, grab a menu, order at the counter, and have a seat.  O. P. Taylor's Toy Store provides toy to occupy the kids while you wait.  We all had sandwiches, and they were to-die-for!  I had a turkey and ham club, and the turkey and ham were slices straight off the Thanksgiving dinner table--no deli meat here!  Jay had a cheesesteak sandwich, and the kids had pb&j.  All of the sandwiches were served on delicious homemade bread--heck, even the peanut butter was homemade!

Our next stop was O. P. Taylor's toy store. Jay had raved about this store since his trip with the kids (I wasn't invited on that trip--he has a history of failing to invite me, or in some cases un-inviting me, on trips).  It really is a great store.  Downstairs, there's a slot car track that Jay and Wake raced on while Arwen and I played with the Calico Critters Luxury Townhouse Set.  Upstairs, Arwen found a shopping cart, which she promptly filled up. There were riding toys, stamps, stuffed animals, a marble maze, and a million other things for the kids to play with.  When we headed back downstairs, Arwen spent some time with the Thomas the train set.  In the end, Wake bought a Lego Minecraft set, and  Arwen got some maracas and a wood block. All in all, a successful trip to the toy store.

After checking out some of the other shops (including The Children's Emporium where all sales go to help abused and neglected children in Transylvania County), we were ready for some ice cream, so we headed back to Rocky's.  The counter was empty this time, so we took the opportunity to let the kids sit at a real soda counter. Even Arwen sat on a stool like a big girl! Jay, Wake, and I got the Black Mountain Brownie Sundae, and Arwen got some choc choc ice cream (and she shared my sundae, of course!).  I had NO IDEA what I was getting into when I ordered that sundae--it was huge! It was also delicious, so we all cleaned our bowls! Check out the before and after shots! lol!

After all our fun in Brevard, it was time to head to Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Patch.  We had never heard of it before finding tickets on Groupon, so we were just hoping for the best!  When we hit a gravel road that made me sorry we took the Jeep instead of the truck, I started to worry, but never fear--all was well in the end.  $5 for parking and trading our Groupon for four wristbands, and we were on our way.  (Arwen was actually free, but it was still cheaper to get the Groupon for four than pay for three regularly priced tickets).

Our first order of business was to take a look around and see what all Stingy Jack had to offer.  There was a hayride, two trails (one spooky, one not), a DJ and dance floor, a Zombie Challenge, several food vendors, a catapult launching pumpkins into the woods, a haystack maze for the kids, a shooting range (BB and paint ball), a human hamster wheel, face painting, and a marshmallow shooting range. In other words, tons to keep you occupied for a while.  Actually, Stingy Jack's doesn't open until 5:30 a lot of their attractions are designed for after dark.  Most activities are included in the ticket prices, but some are a little extra (nothing too extravagant, though).

We did the hayride (which was actually shorter than the time we spent in line--not sure it was really worth it), and Arwen and I did the maze.  Jay and Wake did the Zombie Challenge, which was an extra $2 each, but Wake seemed to enjoy it, and it wasn't too scary (you have to be 10 to enter).  Apparently, it was a series of challenges, like puzzles and obstacles, with live action zombies.  Later, Jay and Wake checked out the Spooky Trail, which Wake assured me was none too spooky, while Arwen and I watched the fire dancers.  The fire dancers were cool, but not as exciting as I'd hoped--maybe we were just too far away from them.  Their show was a bit long for my attention span, too.  Arwen's favorite part was the DJ and dance floor.  There was a dance team that performed a couple of times, but Arwen preferred to do her own dancing.  The dancing was occasionally interrupted to shoot a pumpkin in the woods.  We could see and hear the launcher, but I never once saw a pumpkin.  Jay says they should paint them with glow-in-the-dark paint and launch them at night. Speaking of pumpkins, I think it is important to note that Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Patch is a bit of a misnomer: there weren't any pumpkins to pick or purchase, really.  Just a few that you could buy for kids to decorate with stamps and markers. Not the quality you would want to bring home to carve.

Anyway, I think the highlight of the night for us all was the Twilight Trail.  At first we thought it was just a little 1/4 mile walk through the woods with Halloween lights and come columns of carved and lit pumpkins (see above).  We were wrong.  After crossing the road (they have people to direct traffic), we entered the actual trail.  They had several scenes created out of carved, lit pumpkins--it was super cool! I really think that alone was worth the trip--well, that and watching Arwen dance the night away! Jay really liked how they used multiple pumpkins to create one picture--I'm interested to see how this idea translates to the kids' pumpkins this year! I also liked how the spelled words with the pumpkins--I see a "P" pumpkin in our future! Or maybe three pumpkins stacked to spell out "Boo!" Stingy Jack's pumpkins are not real pumpkins, of course (can you imagine all of those pumpkins rotting? Yuck!), but I think the concept would be the same.

Arwen would have been happy to dance the night away (see below), but we called it a night a little before 10 and were home (with both kids asleep!) by a little after 11.  Jay and I, of course, were exhausted the next day (truth be told, so were the kids!), but it was worth it.  We are thinking of going back next year, and think Jay and I might take a date trip back to Brevard some time soon to check out the waterfalls!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cute things Arwen says--so that I don't forget!

Arwen has come a long way since her first word, which, by the way, was "Mama," just like I wanted.  Ok, really, she said, "Hey," before that, but I don't count that. At all.  Anyway, now 26 months, she's whipping out full sentences and new words every day.  But there are just some things that she says that are too adorable not to share and that I want to make sure I never forget, so here we go:

1. We've gone from "Mama" to "Ommy." She just does not do that "M."  She also doesn't do the "W" in Wake, so he's "Ache" or "Achy" (Don't worry if you just got that Billy Ray Cyrus song stuck in your head right then--I did, too).

2. She calls seat belts "beat belts."  No, I am not abusing her.  She has absolutely no concept of being whipped with a belt and likely never will.  I have no idea where "beat belts"came from, but lots of things besides seat belts are "beat belts," such as belts (makes sense), buttons (doesn't make sense), and snaps (yep, also doesn't really make sense).

3. One of her latest things is "need."  Everything is "I need..." This started a few weeks ago and culminated in her screaming, "I need MawMaw!" in the middle of her dedication service.

4.  Another favorite of hers in "Help!" This started at one of Wake's awards programs. I was at work, so Jay and Arwen went by themselves.  She did pretty well at first, but then, as little ones will do, she started getting squirmy.  She was desperately trying to escape from her daddy when she suddenly screamed, "Help!" just as they were calling Wake's name for an award.  Everyone around Jay apparently started laughing, which if you know Jay, you know he just loved getting that attention. That was months ago, but she still loves "Help!"  A lot of times now, it's "Help, PawPaw!" or "Help, MawMaw!" Jay says that in Arwen-ese "Help" means "Free me from my oppressors."

5. We have been working on animals, colors, counting, and ABC's.  Arwen pretty much knows all of her farm animals and their sounds and has for months.  She's gotten quite good at her colors lately, although she has trouble with red vs. orange and pink vs. purple.  I've heard her count up to 6 and do her ABCs to "p."  She's been really into the ABC song lately, but for Arwen, it comes out "A B Keys."    She also refers to letters as "A B Keys."

6. Arwen has special names for lots of things: "neigh-neighs" or "yee haws" for horses, "Me Maow" for Mickey Mouse, "Min Maow" for Minnie Mouse, "Yo hos" for pirates (you know, "Yo ho ho"?), "EE EE OO OOs" for monkeys, and "po" for pillow.

7. One of her favorite things is Gerber Grabbers--or any of the other brands, though we call them all grabbers.  Or at least everyone but Arwen--she calls them "gabbas," as in "I need a gabba, Ommy."

8. Arwen is, of course, spoiled rotten, and she has already learned how to manipulate and get her way.  Her go-to: "Peas," aka "Please."  Who could say no to that? She also says, "Tanks" (thanks) or "Ting Goo" (Thank you).

9.  Arwen loves to sing, and just like her daddy, Arwen likes to make up songs. Some of her favorites are "The Mommy Song," "The PawPaw House Song," and "The MawMaw House Song." Mostly they consist of saying the title over and over. Also, "house" usually comes out "how," so it's really "PawPaw How" and "MawMaw How."

10.  Even at 2, Arwen gets a lot of mileage out of "okay" and "'kay."  If I ask her to do something, it's "Okay, Ommy!" If she falls, it's "'kay, Ommy!" as in, "I'm okay, Mommy."  You think this is because I we always says, "You're ok!" when she has an accident so that she doesn't have a meltdown???

11.  When Arwen was much younger (yes, I know she's only 2; you know what I mean), Jay taught her a bad habit (I know you are shocked, but it is true).  If they were playing and she took a toy, he would say, "Hey!" in this completely indignant tone of voice. Well, guess what Arwen says now anytime you have to take something from her? And, yes, she has indignant down.

12. And my very favorite of all...As badly as I wanted Arwen to say "Mama" first (which she did, remember?), I wanted equally badly to hear her say, "I love you."  Now she does, and, of course, like all things, she does it in her own Arwen way: she says, "I uv oo, koo, Ommy!" ("I love you, too, Mommy).  Well, I mean, she tells other people that she loves them, too, but I thought I would use Mommy as an example. You understand, right?)

I'm sure there a plenty that I have overlooked and plenty of new ones to come, so I may have to write a sequel in the future, so be warned! My sweet girl marches to the beat of her own drum, and I love her for it!