Autumn in Hocking Hills

My friend Emma and I planned a little getaway at a nice midway point for the two of us in Hocking Hills. We decided on it a little late for the October (fall leaf) rush, so I spent hours pouring over sites looking for a cabin we could stay in.

I finally found this little gem, which seemed like the ONLY (and I mean that literally) cabin available in Hocking Hills that weekend. The place is in Fiddlestix Village, a little village of 5 or so cottages in Hocking Hills. It’s literally within minutes drive of Ash Cave and the price was super reasonable.


We stayed in the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, which had the shakers lined up in the windows. It was adorable! It got very cold during our stay but there were heaters, thankfully. There was a little kitchen sans stove but it did have a microwave and mini fridge, plus a charming updated bathroom, and the bedroom had two beds so we didn’t have to squish together like our college sleepovers. Cause we’re adults now, right?

Okay the only bad part was the wifi was in and out. Apparently wifi at ALL was impressive, because there’s nothing throughout most of Hocking Hills. I should’ve printed some maps, but we managed with Emma’s proper GPS unit. We met on Friday night though at Ravenswood Castle for dinner though and that was a trek through some nothingness. I arrived about 40 minutes before Emma, and started to get seriously worried when she arrived!

Well I got this urge to go out and try to get a sunrise picture the next day. We were too late for that, even as early as we were up, but we did get to Ash Cave before anyone else arrived. We had about a half hour or more all to ourselves. I wish these pictures could fully convey how big it is!





The whole idea of our stay was to take photos, and it was so refreshing to be able to stop and shoot whenever the moment struck and not feel obligated to keep moving or get to the next thing. We stopped on this little side road for this shot.


After Ash Cave, we went to Old Man’s Cave. By this point, everyone else was awake and visiting as well, so it was a little crowded but still worth the visit. We gave the flexible tripod I have and the remote shutter a good workout. I was impressed it worked this far away!









From Old Man’s Cave, there’s some hiking trails that you can take to Cedar Falls (and further if you want). We didn’t quite realize what we were in for when we started. Lots of boulders, and a lot longer of a trail than we expected. We passed a mom with a stroller though and decided that if she could do it, we certainly could. I’m sure she didn’t realize what she was in for either though. She didn’t look super pleased.


The way back from Cedar Falls was more pleasant since we selected the other hiking route and as it happens it was much easier! We passed Rose Lake, which was beautiful. I think our visit was just a week or two shy of peak color, but since there was frost while we were there, lots of leaves were falling. I think we really came at a perfect time.


We ate Saturday night at the Inn at Cedar Falls, which was great, though the drink we had left us sleepy. It was ice cold outside, but I insisted on staying out to try to capture a night sky. I did, albeit it slightly out of focus (you can’t tell with this small size). Maybe next time I’m in the middle of nowhere it will be less cold, it was hard to manage the controls!


Sunday we had a nice breakfast and went to Cantwell Cliffs before heading home. Cantwell was beautiful in a different way again than either Ash Cave or Old Man’s Cave. It felt more out-of-the-way, which was nice.




I tried to capture the falling leaves, but it was almost impossible. I should’ve switched to manual focus but I’m not sure I would’ve been much better. I did get this one leaf mid-flight.





It was a great trip, a nice and fairly inexpensive photographic escape. I felt bad leaving the family in the middle of fall fun but it was worth the trip!

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Fall Festival

Yes, it’s Christmas time. Let’s rewind to a warmer time then.



Last year, we took the kids to a fall festival that was paid for by Brian’s work. This year they didn’t put together this activity again but we went anyway since we had a good time last year. My favorite is the corn pit, as was Coraline’s.



Usually my favorite part though is the corn maze, but this year the corn was a little stunted and wasn’t as dramatically tall. It was pretty sparse, but Jameson and Coraline didn’t seem to care.



Jameson loved the slides, and the hay bale play area. And the food.






This photo almost makes me miss his long hair, but I don’t miss the tangles that’s for sure. Or when he would chew on it.



Fall is my favorite time of year, but Christmas is a close second. The most wonderful time of the year!

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Trick or Tweat

As in years past, we had a few opportunities to dress up in costume and Jameson was thrilled with every chance he got to put on his Thor costume! The day they had Halloween parties at school, Jameson told us he wore his all day!

I was excited that I was able to go to see them at their parties this year, since it’s been a couple years since I last went to any parties at school.




Coraline did a skeleton dance (with some encouragement from me; she was a little attached to me after I had gone in and out of her room a few times). She also did a ghost craft with cotton puffs.

The highlight for both was all the snacking I am certain! Jameson didn’t seem to care whether I was there or not but Coraline was definitely zeroed in on my presence.



Jameson did bowling which I missed, and also a tissue paper pumpkin craft. It was so fun to see them in their element at school.


We also had our usual neighborhood party the weekend prior with craft stations, photo booth and even an outdoor movie.

This year we hosted the registration table. Since we’re distant from the majority of the neighborhood, this was kind of exciting to get people to know us and where we live. We had adult jello in syringes the neighbors made and we decked out the swingset with spiderweb and Halloween lights.



It ended up down-pouring right at the end, and we scrambled into the trunk of a car to go home quickly, but a great time was had by all!

We also dressed up for Boo at the Akron Zoo again this year, and managed to get a shot of all the kids looking (not necessarily smiling) at the camera.




The kids got to trick or treat there at the zoo at several stations, and it was a great day out. We really lucked out with the weather this year for our Halloween events. It wasn’t too cold to enjoy being outside this year.





Coraline and Jameson both loved Trick or Treating this year. We took Lily and Peyton with us while their mom was still at work in the early part of the evening, and all the kids together were super well-behaved and really having a good time.



Jameson wanted to run to each and every house so we had to slow him down for his sister a bit. He didn’t ask to go home or get tired (and neither did Coraline for that matter). Coraline said “Trick or Treat” in the sweetest little voice, and then did it in a squeaky mouse tone which had me cracking up.




We were joined after an hour or so (I can’t believe they lasted almost the entire time!) by Brian’s mom and also Kelly. We have candy all over the house, but it’s worth it for their enjoyment. The kids had such a great time!



The next day after Trick or Treat was over, we told Jameson it was time for a haircut, but as in years past, I feel like we made the most of our costumes. So, I wasn’t too distraught to see them put away or watch the hairdresser snip away his long hair. Goodbye Halloween, hello Thanksgiving!

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Pumpkin Patch and Apple Picking

A couple weeks ago, we visited an apple orchard for the first time. We went to a little farm that we went strawberry picking to last year, and were pleasantly surprised to see they also had a very nice pick your own pumpkin patch (I insist on going to a patch where they don’t have the pumpkins out of the patch).



We had so much fun! They had four varieties of apples to pick, though we skipped the red delicious. We picked Melrose, Empire and Golden Delicious. The farm lets you try one each of the apples, so the kids had a couple right there in the orchard.




This was the best picture I could get every time I requested they stand next to each other for a photo. I gave up!


Grandma came with us and she pointed out the woolly bear caterpillars. We saw two while we were there, and managed not to squish them. The kids might have been more fascinated by it than the apples.


Coraline knocked an apple off without meaning to and tried to put it back. It got funnier when Jameson tried to help her put it back too! We took it home instead when it wouldn’t stay…


We’ve made apple crisp, eaten raw, and made dehydrated cinnamon sugar apple rings with our apples. We don’t have too many left. I think next year we could buy more if we store them properly in the cold garage. The fresh apples taste amazing!

There was a cute hayride back from the apple orchard, and we rode it all around again. Then we decided to go ahead and pick pumpkins too. Jameson of course tried to pick the biggest one he could carry.



Coraline searched for “baby” pumpkins. We found a couple, but they were only baby ones because they didn’t grow properly, so her baby one we took home has since rotted (she didn’t notice when we made it disappear).





We used finger paints to paint a couple of the pumpkins and put them safely out of the rain underneath our porch. The rest are still awaiting carving since we haven’t had much time to do it yet. But we’ll get it done before or on Halloween! Jameson’s teacher at school told us that he loved the pumpkin goop from the one they carved in class, so it should be a good time.

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Fall Soccer Finale

We really watched Jameson take charge this season in soccer! This season, he was on the pink team.


Because he was on the older end of his team, he didn’t have any issues getting in there with the ball. The problem was mostly that he would give the ball a good kick and not follow through.



Familiar now with how soccer goes, Jameson didn’t hesitate to cheer on his pink team members when it was his turn to sit out.


For the most part we had a great listening, hard running, excited soccer player this season. Games were really fun to watch!


Despite that, we as a team didn’t score any goals this season. We really didn’t even get close too often, and I attributed most of that to the really large net they had on our side of the field, next to where our goal was. The kids kept trying to kick it to the big goal instead of their small goal. Regardless, all the kids had a blast.



Go Pink!


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Pumpkin Time

Over Labor Day Weekend, we did our annual tradition to visit the Canfield Fair. Minutes away from arrival, Coraline said she had to go potty and promptly had an accident without trying to hold it. It was a bit frustrating to be less than a minute from a gas station bathroom she couldn’t used but we had bought a change of clothes (and smartly returned her to pull ups for the rest of the day).

We started with the pumpkins, because I like to get photos done early in the morning before it gets too crowded. Plus they’re my favorite. I love to see the giant pumpkins.



Jameson enjoyed himself this year, and made observations about some of the crafted items with the pumpkins. He overall really enjoyed himself, and there was only minor discontent about the fact that we only had one stroller. Coraline didn’t want to get her photo taken, but otherwise was her usual cheery self.



After pumpkins, we visited some of the animals. This sheep was very affectionate, and was vocal about his requests for being petted. I think he was sad when we went to leave! Coraline was a bit intimidated by the large animals, but was happy to pet anything small or not able to get at her, like the bunnies. This year we were a bit bummed that there weren’t any poultry: no chickens, turkeys, or ducks! This rule was apparently across all Ohio fairs.



We had an early lunch, our traditional cavatelli. Jameson had a hotdog, and the stand I got my pasta at was kind enough to split it so that Coraline could have some plain. I was pretty good at not overeating at the fair this year. I had a couple fries, but I didn’t have much of anything else to eat but my lunch and a lemonade. It wasn’t really on purpose, so I was a little bummed when we got home that I hadn’t tried anything else. The kids kept us busy!


This year they had a giant metal rooster to hang a lock on (which they also had last year but we must have missed it). They sold locks, and Jameson sat down to write his name on his. I was impressed he was able to write small enough to fit his name on the lock! We hung it up, and even though Jameson initially wanted to keep the lock, he was happy enough with just the keys to take home.





The health and wellness building had a lot more interactivity for kids this year, and Jameson played a big version of Operation.



We couldn’t miss out on doing at least a few rides. Coraline refused all rides until Jameson climbed on the Batman one, and at the last minute she changed her mind to join him. When the ride started I think maybe she was regretting her decision, but she was happy when she was done!



We didn’t go in the little historical village, but we did try something new. We fed butterflies! There was nectar to dip your finger into, and the butterflies would rest and eat on your hand. Coraline only had one land once, and after that preferred to watch. Jameson was very into it and tried all the butterflies he could. We saw one of Coraline’s friends from school, Teagan, there too.

The monarch butterfly was heavier than I expected!




The kids were getting hot and tired, so we started back to the front of the fair. On our way, we purchased a couple beanie babies for the kids at $2 a piece, which was pretty amazing compared to what they used to cost us when I collected them as a kid.

We visited Old McDonald’s barn, a baby and small animal petting barn. Coraline sat with a bunny for a while with Aunt Holly.


We finished our trip at the popcorn machine, where Jameson had a little meltdown when he wanted more that signaled it was time to leave! We had a good time with Meemaw, Grandpa, Aunt Holly and Grandpa’s cousin Linda who joined us this year.

We definitely aren’t able to spend a full day at the fair yet, but in a couple years we might. I missed out on the crafting and quilting buildings this year, and some other things I like to see that we haven’t really been able to since Jameson was little and napping in the stroller. But I was happy with what the kids got to see, and we had fun!




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Summers End

Coraline has been the most disappointed by summers end I think, in that she doesn’t understand why she must wear pants when she wants to wear a skirt. I tried to compromise this morning with leggings with the skirt, and she got over the trauma after a bit. The other day I had her in a quarter sleeve shirt, and she would tug the sleeves down and push them up. She was very confused as to why they were at her elbow!

Here’s a mish mash of summer highlights, as captured by my phone on the go! The big girl camera stayed in the bag for a while, but I’m starting to bring it back out.

In his element

Splish splash

We had season passes to the local waterpark, and Jameson loved it! He got very brave this summer, going down some bigger slides and tolerating a bit more water on his head. I think next year he’ll be hard to stop in the kid area. Coraline was a little less excited after a little dunking at the end of a slide a couple times. She only wanted to do one slide. She did get a kick out of the life jacket in the wave pool though as long as I was holding on to her.

Sliding buddies

It's hot

We had quite a bit of time with our own little pools and enjoying fun with the neighbors! We also did the farmer’s market again this year and did our crop share program with a local organic farmer. It’s still going on this weekend (here’s a peak at what we got a couple years ago when I did weekly photos)

A beautiful flower at the farmers market

Jameson learned how to pump his swing himself! And Coraline hopped on the big girl swing a few times, getting braver each time.

Swing swing swing

We also finally got out our big water bouncer again after Brian did some patch work to it! We invited friends over a few times to enjoy the summer weekends. Watermelon was almost always involved, the quintessential summer treat.

Say "watermelon!"

With goodbyes to summer, I am welcoming Coraline in adorable tunic shirts, Jameson in beanie hats, and cuddling with Brian for warmth (cause he likes it freezing. WHY?!).

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Bubbles & Pine Cones

The weather’s starting to feel like fall today, so this is a nice throwback to the heat this summer. We had a cookout with Grandma, Poppa and Aunt Melissa for the rest of our 4th of July weekend. Coraline is wearing an outfit that was mine growing up, so fun to see her in it!

The kids love to collect pine cones beneath Grandma’s tree, which they call the “Tree House”.




They don’t know it, but all the pine cones they collect actually get returned out to the tree prior to them visiting, so they can re-collect over and over again. Never-ending fun!


They also played with bubbles, and kept anyone watching them busy by running around, up and down the hill and to the creek to throw rocks and back.




This photo of the two of them was cute, but I noticed after I took it that Jameson’s hair was in his face. So, I tried to get them to go back down the hill to take it again. However, Coraline started running way too quick on the steep hill and slammed onto her face.

After about 10 minutes of recovering, crying, and asking to go back up the hill, Jameson actually joined us and she perked up again.


And so I got this beautiful gem, the best photo of the two of them I’ve taken in a long time, no crazy photoshop needed. It’s hanging large on our kitchen collage wall now! I’m glad that committed to re-taking the photo, despite our mishap (and Coraline probably believing I was the worst mommy ever for a time).

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Growing Baby Birdies

This year, I decided to try planting some annuals in our flowerbeds out front again. And I was pretty quickly reminded of why I don’t usually plant annuals. Our soil there is pretty much mulch, clay, or roots. Surprisingly, after an animal ate some of them and a few dried up, most of them have returned in the deluge of rainfall we’ve had the past two weeks. We certainly haven’t needed the kiddos to help water them for a while!

Watering the flowers

Jameson always loves to help daddy with yardwork. Brian prepped the gardens, while I’ve done a lot more of the planting, watering, clipping and weeding for most of our plants this year.

Garden prepartion

I’ve been feeling pretty protective of our plants which I’ve been caring for. Unfortunately, the tomatoes have a fungus, likely triggered again by this hot, humid and very wet weather we’ve been having. We’re trying to spray them and protect what is left, since it’s still very early in the season for them to have a disease.

Watering the garden

We also had baby birds growing in the garden this year. We have a honeysuckle bush within the fenced in area of the garden that a robin was nesting in. We were thankful she never bothered us and we tried not to bother her while she was nesting. Within the week after the mother bird finally left the nest enough to see the baby birdies they were already flying! One day I came up to get another photo and flushed them from the bush. I was lucky not to get pooped on, that’s for sure!

Growing baby birds in our garden this year

Birdies are getting so big!

I hope the wet weather turns again soon. Rain is great, but if it doesn’t stop soon I’m afraid we’re going to lose all our tomatoes before they’re even close to ripening.

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Penguins at the Zoo

In mid April, we visited the zoo specifically so that we could see the new penguin exhibit at the Cleveland Zoo. It’s a temporary exhibit, so nothing special, but a fun excuse to get out with the kiddos.


We were joined by our friends and the boys were pretty hilarious running around hand in hand (until they nearly ran people over, at which point we put a stop to that)



The penguins were not too exciting. They have a little glass window and one or two penguins walking around on a little shelf. It would definitely have been a let down except we have a pass and weren’t too concerned about filling our day to make our money’s worth.





This also happened to be the day that there was another 2 or 4 year old boy (there were conflicting reports) who fell into the cheetah exhibit! We were all fine obviously, and we didn’t witness it since we didn’t make it up to that area that day, but when we left there was news crews gathering.

It’s been really fun getting out with both kids now that they’re older. Coraline can handle delayed naps and it was finally warming up enough to really enjoy outdoor activities again!

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