Family

Columbus Zoo

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I’ve mentioned on here before about spring being my favorite season. Among lists I’ve given as to why I prefer spring to any other season I may have neglected one of the best parts of spring and that would be Spring Break. This fabulous week off of school always serves as a precursor to the impending summer vacation. It gives a little hope for what is to come, and it is always so much better when the weather is pleasant. Today, the weather was windy but beautiful. My daughter and I packed our sack lunches (she chose lunchables at the store yesterday along with Veggie Straws and strawberry applesauce), put on a couple of layers and met some of our church group friends for the journey to the Columbus Zoo.

Every summer since our daughter was born we have made a point to venture to the zoo at least once. It’s always been a good time, however, today was by far the most she has enjoyed the experience. She was able to do much of the walking on her own and discuss with me about the many different animals she witnessed.

The Columbus Zoo is always a phenomenal experience, and in my opinion is one of the best zoos around. One could spend several days at the Columbus Zoo and still not engage in all that it has to offer. The zoo is well organized, clean, and educational. It was a wild and active trip, but it was also well worth it. To see my daughter appreciating the beauty of the outdoors, the animals, and friendships makes it worth the exhaustion after the fact.

I’m now more than ever looking forward to summer vacation so that we can embark on similar adventures more regularly. The toddler years are tiring, but so much fun. I am blessed to have a daughter who is so in love with learning and life. Motherhood is a beautiful thing.

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The Date Jar

The Date Jar: Week 4 (Daddy’s Birthday)

Is there a better way to spend a Monday than as a family celebrating a birthday? I think not. Today was my husband’s 27th birthday and we spent the day doing some of his favorite things. We slept in, had brunch at Waffle House, visited one of his favorite parks, purchased a book at his favorite bookstore, and had dinner at a great restaurant. We ventured to historic German Village. This is one of our favorite destinations in the Columbus area. The atmosphere of this village is nostalgic for my husband, because it reminds him of his childhood in England. The houses and roads are brick, people are walking everywhere no matter the weather, and there’s a coffee shop on every corner. He loves to slip into this small neighborhood in south Columbus when he needs a little reminder of home.

We spent the day eating and playing (a divine day according to my husband). There was no plan in place when we left the house this morning (which put me a little out of my element), but that’s exactly the way my husband likes it. As we left the house this morning we knew only that our stomachs were growling and the weather was predicted to be beautiful to which it lived up to its forecast.

My husband made the decision to visit a Waffle House in Grove City, a nearby suburb of Columbus. I can’t recall the last time I ate at the good ole Waffle House, but I know it was before the birth of our daughter. In our early days of marriage we lived near a Waffle House and occassionally visited it for cheap diner-style breakfast when we were in the mood for brunch. There is nothing healthy about the place, but birthdays are cheat days, right?

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By the time we finished brunch it was after noon. My husband was in the mood for basketball (which is actually a state of being, not a mood in his world) so we headed toward a park in German Village, Schiller Park. This trip allowed my husband a chance to “ball” with the locals while my daughter and I enjoyed some time at the playground across the way. Everyone got a chance to get some exercise in the beautiful outdoors. It really was perfect weather for a park trip.

About half a mile from this park is a unique and trendy book shop called The Book Loft. This complex maze of books is a 32-room building in the middle of German Village. Each room is divided by genre. This is one of our favorite bookstores ever. (It helps from my perspective that it sits atop a lovely coffee shop) Each of us got a chance to explore our favorite rooms and no trip to The Book Loft is complete without getting lost at least once. So yes, that happened.

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Next, we walked another couple of blocks down the narrow brick street and ended up at a cute French bakery, Pistacio Vera. This bakery is famous for their macaroons, so of course we had to get a box. (Like I said earlier we basically ate and played all day)

On our way back from the bakery our daughter literally fell asleep walking. I didn’t know it was possible, but apparently there is such a thing as too much fun. She hit her limit and my husband and I took turns carrying the sleepy one during the half mile walk back to our car.

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Any parent of a toddler can attest to the fact that once the child is asleep they must not be awakened. Instead of letting nap time get in the way of our spontaneous day in German Village we decided to enjoy this time by letting her sleep in the car while my husband and I each cracked open a book. It was so unbelieveably nice to sit in the car with the windows down and do nothing but read for an hour. Some of you may be laughing at our idea of fun, but it truly was one of the better parts of the day. We find it romantic to sit beside each other reading.

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After an hour or so our daughter began to wake up in the backseat. We were on to the next phase of the birthday shenanigans: dinner. My husband chose to eat at Schmidts, a world famous sausage haus in German Village. They have an autobahn buffet where one can eat sausages and german potato salad until they explode. It was so delicious.

It was with full stomachs and no energy that we mutually decided to leave German Village and head home. My husband’s big birthday gift this year was a new television that he has been wanting for a while so we ended this perfect day on the couch watching Netflix on his new tv.

It was a great day with great people. Our daughter is a trooper. She genuinely loves to be a part of our Date Jar activities. As parents, we find “dating with our daughter” to be rewarding and so much fun, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I must say that my husband also did a pretty good job with this unplanned day of celebration. He’s such a great guy and deserves to have a fun and relaxing day.

Happy 27th, Babe 🙂

The Date Jar

The Date Jar: Week 3 (Family Getaway!)

Alas, the day has come where my husband comes home straight after work and the late weeknight basketball games are no more. His basketball coaching season came to a close a little over a week ago. Although I support him in all he does, a little part of me is excited that his season ended prematurely during a single-elimination tournament. As much as I love to watch him succeed in his basketball season I also love having him all to myself at home. I know I know…it’s selfish. I missed having him home in the evenings and I absolutely can’t stand the times (although they are very few) when we are unable to eat dinner together. It’s the way I was raised…dinner at the table every night.

It’s only fitting that this being our first non-basketball weekend since October that we should plan an extended family date. We didn’t want to spend gobs of money on a getaway weekend, so we decided to stay fairly local. We purchased a hotel on the north side of Columbus in a nice suburb filled with many attractions, and set out with no concrete plans and a bunch of free time.

We woke up Saturday morning and packed. Our home is in a predominantly rural community about twenty minutes south of Columbus. With the weather being as cold as it has been lately we decided to find an indoor activity near the Columbus metro area to visit and look for hotels in that area. We settled on a really nice suburb of Columbus, Worthington. This was a perfect location for this “staycation” as it ends up being about an hour drive from our home. It is far enough away to feel like a trip and it is an area we rarely visit so it held new adventures and the visitor appeal from our perspective.

Our first venture during our getaway was a Hobby Lobby. I could have spent the entire trip in this store. I love the decorating ideas, crafting supplies, and inspiration that fill every aisle. I left the shop with so many new ideas for home improvement projects to tackle. My husband may loathe that store more than any other on the planet simply for the fact that a trip to Hobby Lobby tends to result in a new home project.

Next, we embarked on a shopping mall. Polaris Fashion Place is a very upscale shopping center in that area. We spent a couple of hours looking around and spending minimal amounts. Our goal for the weekend was not to break out budget, but to also get some much-needed retail therapy at the same time. The theme I guess: Sensability. I feel so pathetic saying this, but I have not been truly on a shopping trip since the week before Thanksgiving. So there were things (especially for my daughter) that we needed to purchase.

Each of us purchased a few new items. We are building up a new Spring wardrobe for our daughter so she got to pick out an outfit and due to great deals we purchased an Easter dress for her as well. I purchased a new spring top, lipgloss, and a book about Blogging. My husband, the basketball freestyler, bought a new basketball to use during his travelling ministry shows and a Christian life book which is one of his favorite genres. Here is a look at our spoils:

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After a couple of hours at the mall it was off to dinner for the three of us. One of our favorite restaurants in the Columbus Metro area is Carabbas Italian Grill. We are a pasta-loving family. We don’t eat pasta too often, but on special occasions we splurge on a good Italian meal. My husband and I each ordered Wood Grilled Chicken (mine with a side of fettucine alfredo and his with a side of garlic mashed potatoes). The meal was topped off with a luscious Tiramisu shared amongst the three of us. Right before we paid our bill a woman seated behind us shared a 15% off coupon with us. She said that our daughter was so cute and so well-behaved. Score! We left stuffed and satisfied.

photo credit: http://www.savingaddiction.com/10-off-at-carrabbas/

After dinner we ventured to Magic Mountain. If you are not familiar with the concept it is an affordable and family friendly indoor playground for various age levels. This spot has a kids jungle gym area, arcade, go-karts, put-put, and laser tag. With our daughter only being two years old we decided to just try the jungle gym. The cost: $3…TOTAL! Due to the temperatures the place was extremely crowded. It made me a little nervous, but our daughter had a blast. She ran around with other kids her age and enjoyed the chance to climb, slide, and play with balls (from a ball pit). She played hard, and it was a late night. From my perspective it couldn’t have been better. All of us getting a chance to do something each of us would like individually and enjoying it together. Such a great weekend 🙂

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We stayed at a hotel chain not too far from the shopping center/Magic Mountain. We enjoyed an evening of browsing through tv channels and reading. This is the perfect way to end any day in the Sisley home.

Sunday morning we were up a little later than normal, partially due to Springing Forward. Also, since we were not too far from home we were able to make it to a church service at our home church in Grove City. We went to a later service, but it was also a great way to end the weekend. (Especially since we hadn’t been to church in a few weeks due to various snow storms that always seemed to occur Saturday night into Sunday mornings)

The concept of family getaways to a fairly local location is one that every family should try once or twice a year. It gave us a chance to spend some quality time as a family doing things we love and mixing in some new adventures all while spending much less than we would to take a proper vacation. It was nice to have the time away from home where I didn’t feel obligated to wash dishes or do laundry. Family quality time always lacks a little bit toward the end of basketball season so it is always great to get some time just us to get back in sync and enjoy each other’s company.

I hope you are enjoying our Date Jar series. I know I’m enjoying the family quality time and I hope I’m inspiring you with affordable ways to date your family.  IMG_0355