Thursday, August 27, 2009

Indian Cavern

Side note: Sorry it has been a while since we have posted. School just started again last week, and I have sort of been boycotting everything because I wish it was still summer. Oh well, back to the real world!

A couple weeks ago, we went to visit the Olentangy Indian Cavern. It is about 30 minutes north of us, and it was a lot of fun! We had to wait about 30 minutes to go inside, so we walked around outside for a while. Clara was happy to be outside and play on the grass.

There was a little "ghost town" that you could go play in, and Clara went straight for the jail. I guess that police car ride when she was 6 months old really had an impact on her.

These are a few shots from inside the cavern. The Wyandotte Indians used to live inside the cavern during the winter because it stayed a balmy 55 degrees farenheit year round and the water in there wasn't frozen. It is also believed to be the hide out spot for a bank robber way back when. If any of you come visit, we can go here!


For Christmas last year, my sister Rachael gave us a season pass to COSI children's museum. I decided to wait to start the pass until Clara could walk so we would both enjoy our time there better. Well, Clara is walking now, so we decided to start going to COSI, and she LOVES it!

COSI has a little kids section that is basically a giant indoor playground with lots of hands on activities, like a water table, electricity room, play doctors offices, etc. Clara loves to splash at the water table.
Clara and Harry playing in the water

When you first walk in, there is this giant tree house/slide/climbing place, and Clara loves to explore on it.

There is a giant bean bag with a ton of stuffed animals and puppets. Clara likes to play with all of those.

I really like this picture, she was so oblivious that I was there the entire time. She was content to just play and ignore me.

This video was in the electricity room. When you put your hand on the metal, music starts playing. Clara loves to touch all the different things to hear all the different sounds and dance. She LOVES music.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hello Bumblebee (aka Tweety) OR Jordan's attempt to remain relevant

For the past two years I have been trying to decide how to address the rust spots growing on my car. I decided to paint it might be fun to paint the whole thing, so I started deciding what paint job to do. I thought about a Buckeye Football Helmet design but decided that would be too much work. So, I thought I would paint it like the Transformers Autobot Bumblebee.

Thanks to a friend who owns a paint store, I got a gallon of Safety Yellow industrial acrylic paint (the stuff used to paint factory floors and parking lot pillars) and some black spray paint. David and I painted the whole thing yellow with rollers and a brush in about four hours total. Crystal and I painted the black lines on in about 30 minutes with spray paint.

One of my favorite small touches is that I painted the screws on the license plates yellow, too.

The yellow painting all happened while Crystal was in Fresno this summer, so she was surprised to see it when she got home. The safety yellow works as advertised, because, as Crystal put it, "the car glows in the dark!"

I have enjoyed driving it around and hope to get a lot more years and miles out of it (and less rust!)

On a funny side note, I was showing off my "new" car to some of the Boy Scouts I work with and one of the 15-year-olds said my plan to drive a car painted like Bumblebee would make me look like a dork. Crystal probably agrees, but I hope most people out there don't! Ha ha.

As noted in the post title, my car is now also called "Tweety," in honor of David and Megan's late neighbor Lee Dean. Lee lived next door to them and was always sitting on the porch willing to share a laugh and a good story. He and I also rode the same bus a few times while I was going school and he was headed to work. The last time I saw Lee before his heart attack was when I pulled up to David's house in the car before I put the stripes on it. Lee looked at it, laughed and said, "You're driving a Tweety Bird car!" A couple days later I was visiting him in the intensive care unit while he was in a coma from which he never recovered. During that last visit in the hospital, I told him I would call the car Tweety in his honor; I'm sure he would have gotten a kick out of that.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rag Rug

A year or two ago, my sister Rachael and I talked about making rag rugs, but we never got started. A couple of weeks ago when Jordan and I were in Nauvoo, I saw a rag rug making demonstration and decided I was going to get to work. I looked up how to make a rag rug on the internet, and I decided that I liked this idea the best. I liked the way the braids looked on this one the best, but there are a lot of different ways to make a rag rug. I had some old sheets that had holes in them, cut them into strips, and got started. The rug isn't perfect, and after doing this one, I know alot better of what and what not to do. Hopefully the next one will look better, but I am really happy with how my first one turned out. It is super soft and comfy to stand on. It is so soft, that Clara wont leave it alone! She keeps walking back over to it and sitting on it!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cake Decorating

Last night, I went to a cake decorating activity. We each had to bring a cake and some icing, then we got some tips on how to decorate cakes. Mine isn't perfect, but it did turn out ok, and it tastes even better! I made a red velvet cake and a swiss merengue buttercream frosting (recipe compliments of Martha Stewart). The combination is so yummy! Once you try this icing, you will never want to use another recipe again! Come on over and I will give you a slice!

Nauvoo Fun

After our camping trip to South Bass Island, Jordan and I (and Clara) got to accompany the Young Women from 0ur ward on a trip to Nauvoo, Il. For those of you who aren't familiar with Nauvoo, please click here. From our house, it was about a 9 hour drive. Needless to say, Clara wasn't thrilled about being in the car the whole time, so we stopped and let her explore on the grass for a little while. I really liked this picture.

Once we arrived, we went to the house we were staying at, got settled, then went to the visitors center. There is a statue garden outside the visitors center. I love this statue, so Jordan, Clara and I decided to reinact it.

Once we had wandered around the visitors center enough, we went back to the house and had dinner, then we went to the Nauvoo Pagaent. It was such an amazing show. Lucky for me, Clara slept through most of it, so I could enjoy it! The next morning, we went on a wagon ride around Historic Nauvoo and saw all the sights. This is about how excited Clara was the entire time.

This was Clara at her happiest on the ride. She really wanted to crawl around.

After the wagon ride we went to the Brickyard and saw how they made bricks, then got a free brick. Then we went to the blacksmith shop and saw how they made horseshoes and wagon wheels and got a free prarie diamond ring. Then we went to the Family Living Center and saw all sorts of things like how they make bread, rugs, candles, and so much more. It was a lot of fun to see all the demonstrations and learn how to do things. In fact, that part inspired me to make a rag rug, which you all will hopefully see in a future post! We basically went and saw all the sights, including Joseph Smith's house and his Red Brick Store. That night, Jordan and I were able to go do a session at the Nauvoo Temple. The young women were more than happy the babysit Clara for us, and we were more than happy to let them! Words cannot describe how beautiful that buidling is!

The next morning, it was raining, so we weren't able to do the trail of hope as we had wanted, but we did go walk around the grounds of the temple again. After that, we drove to Carthage, Il and visited the place where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred. Here is a picture of our whole group at Carthage.

We had such a great time, and enjoyed seeing all the sights in Nauvoo, as well as getting to know all the people who were on our trip with us.

Dharma Cave

I took this picture inside Perry's Cave on South Bass Island. Do you think this could be another location the donkey wheel can send you? I asked the tour guide about it and he came back with a pretty lame answer. I think he was hiding something...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Our Island Adventure (without leaving Ohio)

For a summer vacation before I start school again, my girls and I headed north three hours to Put-in-Bay, Ohio, a small town (400 permanent residents) on a small island (three-ish square miles) in Lake Erie off Ohio's northern coast. We left on a Monday morning, ate lunch in Sandusky, Ohio (which is on the coast, as well as being the hometown of the newspaper company that owns The Standard-Examiner where I worked in Ogden, Utah, and Sandusky is also the home of Tommy Callahan, the protagonist in Tommy Boy) and then drove to the ferry boarding station.

The ferry carries all sorts of cars, buses, trucks and people back and forth from the mainland to the island. A boat packs up and leaves every 30 minutes. It was fun to ride along on "big water" without having large waves or salty stickiness on everything (not that I don't love the ocean, but this is a great alternative).

This is what the ferry looked like.

And here is our car parked aboard.

You can notice our gold Accord loaded with our bikes and Clara's bike trailer. With the island being so small, we parked at our campsite at a state park and then just rode around as we explored the island. The biking was a lot of fun and the island is pretty flat, so it was relaxing instead of strenuous.

Here are the girls on the ferry. I was glad Crystal wore a sailor-style shirt for the trip!

When we got to the island, we set up camp and then rode into town. Unfortunately we didn't take any pictures of our camp, nor of us on the bikes. The campsite was great, though, under lots of big trees for shade (and hanging a hammock!) and we got to use our new tent, which comfortably fit our things, our air mattress and Clara's portable crib. A 30 foot cliff to the lake was about 200 feet from our camp, so we could look out over the lake while still not having to worry about Clara making a break for a swan dive. Also, flush toilets and hot showers were right next to our site, so all in all it was really easy camping. It rained pretty hard the second night and a few things got soggy, but we three stayed dry and were able to sleep pretty well.

In town, we first went to Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, a 350-foot monument which commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, a key part America's victory against Britain and Canada during the War of 1812. Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry, who commanded the US ships in Lake Erie, defeated a British/Canadian fleet and stopped them from being able to transport supplies across the lake. This defeat allowed the Americans to maintain their borders as they were and has helped create peace between the three countries ever since. In fact, the flags of all three countries are flown at the same height at the monument in honor of this peace.
There is a neat visitor's center at the memorial, but the big highlight was riding up the elevator to the top of the tower. Luckily, we rode to the top only five days before the tower was closed for a two-year renovation project. It has stood since 1912 without major renovations, so, while it is still structurally sound, the National Parks Service wants to make sure it stands safely for another 100 years.

From there, we could see all over the island, as well as over to the mainland and to a Canadian island. Here is a great shot of the island, with the main part of the town and the harbor in plain view. The Harbor was really nice and it was fun to watch the boats come in and out. There was also a good restaurant on the boardwalk where we had some yummy seafood (including a great Lake Erie Perch sandwich for me).

Outside the monument is an example of what most Put-in-Bay parking looks like - it is almost all golf carts. That is how people get around the island, mostly, and it was fun to see all the different styles of the little buggys. Someday it would be fun to rent one, but it was also a lot of fun to ride bikes.

Other island attractions include two caves, across the street from each other. The first, called Perry's Cave was the source of clean drinking water for Perry's men during the War of 1812. He discovered the cavern and sent his men down to get water. Now it has a tour and a gift shop and mini-golf course above it.
Across the street, under a winery, actually, is the Crystal Cave, which isn't really a cave - instead it is the world's largest geode. The crystals inside the cave are all huge and reminded me of the fake caverns where Superman goes in the movies. The geode is about as big as our bedroom and can fit about 20 people inside at once!
Here are some pictures from inside Crystal Cave.

Our tour of the cave included a tour of the winery, which wasn't really interesting to us, but it was cool to see how the bottling machines work, and we did enjoy the grape juice they gave us. For only $3 we bought a big bottle of 100 percent grape juice, no sugar or water added, which we have been enjoying at meals. The juice is really good.

Down the road from the caves (the island is so small, everything is "just down the road") is a chocolate shop which advertises a chocolate museum. It was a two-room affair with videos about chocolate and some vintage candy displays. There was nothing specifically Put-in-Bay about it, but it was interesting, and free. We did get a couple cute shots of Clara pretending to be in some famous Hollywood chocolate-based moments.

We also toured a neat museum about the island (Did you know Put-in-Bay, in the '60s, was the last American town to close its streets to car races?) that talked about life on the island and how it has changed. In the early 20th Century, there were several huge hotels on the island, but they all burned down (the firefighting on the island suffered from a lack of water pressure and good equipment, apparently), so now visitors camp or stay at one of the cute bed and breakfast establishments on the island. The museum is a place I would have liked to spend more time, but Clara's patience for history and displays she can't touch is limited. She was particularly inclined to grab the many neat models of ships and boats which have operated at the island.
This is what would have happened if we had let her grab everything she wanted to!
The last thing we did was visit the home of the Doller family, headed by Valentine Doller, who was the first shopowner on the island and one of the political and business leaders for a long time. He lived in a beautiful house right on the water in downtown, and now that house is a tourist stop. It has been added onto in the past 30 years, but the additions are tastefully done in the original style and add a lot to the property.
Here is one of the rooms from the Doller house.

And this is what Clara decided to do as we explored.

Overall, we were very pleased with how exciting, close and fun this trip was. It could be done in a (long) day trip from Columbus, so if anyone wants to come visit we'd be glad to take you.

Clara would welcome some company in the back seat!


Chik-Fil-A gave us free food for dressing like cows. Hooray.

David, Megan and Harry used latex gloves as udders, which was wonderful. This is our last picture of Megan before she had Wyatt Klaus, their second little boy (and little joy!).

Pasta on the Floor, Clara times Four

We had the missionaries in our ward over for dinner one night recently, and Crystal, as always, made something delicious. The deliciousness was delayed slightly by the fact that the pasta spilled all over the floor, so we had to make more.
Clara loved it, and I have done a quick chop of four of Crystal's pictures of Clara's reactions to the delicious treat fallen from the sky. Enjoy.