Saturday smiles: out of the zone edition

So, I’m not exactly smiling as I write this. I’m at the beginning of a weekend of single parenting, and I already miss my husband terribly. Not because the kids are awful, but I just get used to the company, I guess. I cry like a baby when we’re apart. Maybe that’s good.

I do have a lot to smile about this week, and I know the weekend won’t last forever.

Here we go.

Toe socks. I wasn’t sure I’d like them, but they’re strangely comfortable. And secretly fun. Like, no one can actually see them on your toes when you’re out and about, but you know they’re on your feet, which puts a little extra zip in your step. (This is the last picture of my feet, I promise. Sorry if feet creep you out!)

Breaking the routine. After dropping my husband off at the church where he was catching a ride to a weekend retreat, I took the kids to the mall to play at Club Kid, a sort of indoor playground awesome land for the little ones. We bought a pass for the month of January especially for days such as this where I feel the need to treat them (and me!) to a little change of pace. Afterwards, we ate slices of pizza at Mancino’s, just across the way from Club Kid and still in the mall. All in all, we had fun. Sometimes, I pre-freak out when considering doing something new and different with the kids by myself. But afterwards, I gain a little confidence and courage to do it again.

Meeting new people. I am so shy sometimes, but every now and then, I open up and share a piece of my life with strangers. Like other moms at indoor playgrounds. I met a nice Italian woman Friday night whose father is the namesake and founder of a local pizza place. She was excited to hear that my husband is in seminary and about to graduate and shared with me about her church experience. She said she hoped we’d meet again. I’ve never considered myself good at making friends, so it gives me a boost emotionally and spiritually to interact with strangers and walk away with a potential friend.

A good night’s sleep. I felt ill a couple of nights ago and went to bed before 8:30. When I woke up at 6 with the kids the next day, I felt refreshed. I love sleep, and it’s something I’ve had to give up for parenting (which is like sacrificing for Lent, only longer).

Our big, out-of-the-box event this week was a trip to the Pennsylvania Farm Show. This is the fourth opportunity we’ve had to go since living in Pennsylvania but the first time we could actually make the trip. We went with friends from the seminary and one of their daughters. The kids had an amazing time getting close to animals, watching draft horses in the ring and kids racing stick horses.

(We didn’t cage the kids, honest. This is the result of my daring husband dangling the camera over the arena balcony to capture our kids’ faces. I refused to do it for fear of losing the camera over the side.)

The bunnies were a big hit with Corban. He waved at most of them.

And the birds were noisy but impressive. Especially the turkeys. Holey-moley. I’ve never seen such big birds.

This guy was a Bourbon Red, and though you can’t really tell from the picture, Isabelle’s hair matched his (or maybe it was a her?) feathers perfectly. We’ve decided “Bourbon Red” will be her professional wrestling, roller derby or ultimate fighting nickname. (Just kidding. Please don’t report us to child services.)

Speaking of turkeys. I’m all for educating kids about where our meat comes from … you know, farm to table and all, but this bit of eavesdropping had me a bit uneasy. The conversation went something like this.

Mom: Daniel, do you see those turkeys? You know when we eat turkey on Thanksgiving? That’s what we eat.

Daniel: Let’s get a gun and shoot him right now and eat him!

Daniel was maybe 6 years old and shouted this several more times. Is it just me?

I learned a lot about Pennsylvania agriculture. I could probably bore you with facts about mushroom production, dairy farms and apples, so I won’t. But I will tell you this: honey ice cream is surprisingly amazing. We ate chocolate and raspberry honey ice cream over honey waffles. Dee-licious. Just ask our kids, who gobbled it up. (Maybe that was the wrong word to use after the turkey talk!)

It was a fun family outing for these native Illinoisans. We only wish we’d had more time to check it all out. Maybe another time.

I’ll leave you with one last nugget of smile-making. If you’re not smiling yet, I hope you will be after you see this. My kids are silly and that often makes me smile.

Have a great week!

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