Friday, October 17, 2008

Amish Paradise

Thanks in no small part to the kindness of fellow travelers, TSA agents, and the monkey backpack, the kids and I are home alive from our trip to Amish country. We went to visit my dad and his wife, who recently bought a B&B there. We had a great time, and it was the first time all six cousins were together in one place.

Sidamo, Zoe, Xavier, Catherine, Nora, and George

The B&B is lovely, tucked in Ohio's rolling hills, and we were there at the perfect time of year: leaves are changing, the weather was beautiful, and the days are still long enough to spend lots of time outdoors. The kids had a blast running around my father's property, feeding the deer on the farm behind the property, and playing on the neighbor's swingset. Oh, and riding in the cart of my dad's John Deere.

Catherine and Meaghan feeding one of the more approachable deer. One of them, #50 (dubbed Lucky because she's managed to stay on the farm for eight years) would actually stick her head through the fence and lick your hand—or your infant's face, whichever's closer. Sorry, Nora!

Zoe giving Sidamo a push.

Zoe and Xavier. Flattering angle for both, wouldn't you say?

Pop-pop giving George and Catherine a ride. It's quite surreal seeing my Brooklyn-born dad behind the wheel of a tractor.

George and Sidamo taking a tractor ride. How cute are they?

Zoe showing off her new friend the wooly worm.

George, crafting his next bit of mischief.

The days sort of blend together (blame it on the lack of sleep—Nora was up all night to nurse every night, and Sidamo started his day at around 5:30 most days), but one of the days we went on a boat ride on part of Ohio's extensive canal system.

Can you see the horses ahead in the distance? Turns out they don't walk in the water to pull the boat as some of us (okay, just one of us) thought.

Andrew and George. See the beautiful leaf colors?

Pop-pop with all his grandchildren. Not easy to get a good photo of six kids. Someone on the boat asked if all the kids were mine. Good lord, I would have thrown myself off the boat (and into the knee-deep water) if I'd been in charge of wrangling all those kids by myself.

A different day we went to a pumpkin patch and petting zoo, but Sidamo and George slept through the pumpkin picking part and woke up pretty cranky about the petting part.

Xavier with his bounty.

At least most of the cousins thought it was fun.

Just not this one.

Seriously, how can you be grumpy in the company of this little piglet?

Or this one?

A big, big highlight of the trip was the realization that my dad's new home is within driving distance of my blog friend Alicia and her daughter Eliza, who was one of Sidamo's roommates at the care center in Ethiopia. I completely fell in love with little Eliza when we were there to pick up Sidamo, and if those vigilant nannies had ever turned their backs, I might have snuck out of there with two kiddos. Alicia, Eliza, and Eliza's big brother Benjamin made the drive to Amish country to meet us, and the kids had a lovely reunion. Eliza is every bit as charming as I remember her, and she couldn't have found herself a more wonderful mom and big brother. They're remarkably forgiving as well: After our gathering at my dad's place, we took them on a wild goose chase with the unfulfilled promise of lunch. Really and truly, we drove for hours in a three-car caravan before eventually finding a place to eat greasy grilled cheese sandwiches. Poor Alicia realized at some point that her tank was on empty and decided to turn around before we made it to a restaurant. I'm still not quite sure how it all happened, or why she's still speaking to me, but maybe we're all stronger for it?

Eliza, Sidamo, and the ubiquitous Dora.

George, Sidamo, and the lovely Miss Eliza.

Can't you see them playing duets in a smoky bar in about 60 years?

On Meaghan and family's last day there, we went to visit some neighbors, who graciously offered rides on both horses and swings.

Sidamo still says no to horse rides, but he was thrilled about the swing.

He did ask to touch the horse, though—a first. Oh, but he also insisted on having the whole penis discussion again. Loudly, incessantly, in a very quiet barn occupied by just me, him, a horse, and a very modest Amish woman. "Mommy, him have a peeeenus?" I ignore. "Mommy, that's a peeeeeeeeenus?" And so on. I can't begin to explain how uncomfortable it was, but at least I know I can repay him by showing this blog to his future girlfriends.

Catherine and Zoe (not pictured here) both loved riding Seb, and Ruby was the perfect hostess and riding coach.

In other big news, Nora rolled over for the first time while we were there. I missed the first rollover, but my dad saw it. Now she rolls pretty much as soon as she's placed on her back. This is a photo of her immediately after one of her first revolutions. Do you see that sense of accomplishment?

All in all, the trip was great. Traveling alone with two kids is no cakewalk, though. The flights weren't as bad as I had envisioned, but it took a ton of preparation and even more patience—on all our parts. I learned before the flight home that I could request a gate pass so my dad could come through security with us and all our accoutrements, and that made life much easier. The visit itself did have its tough parts, and at times the kids and I were pretty cranky and tired of each other. But we all survived (with a few extra gray hairs for one of us), and it was all worth it to see my father thriving in his new environs.

It was also pretty exciting to get six of the world's cutest kids in one place for a weekend. I wish that could happen more often.


Mama Papaya said...

Okay, what a stunning group of cousins. Seriously.

Thanks for letting me vacation vicariously. :)

Heather & Adam said...

All the kids are so cute! And your dad's place looks amazing. Perhaps one day, when Greg can come with you, we can have a weekend there! It's beautiful. You did good, mama!

Liza said...

Sounds great. I'm glad to hear that you all survived and that horses have penises in Ohio, too. And yes, that has to be among the most beautiful collections of kids, ever.

Oh! I followed your lead and bought a monkey backpack this weekend, after an ill-fated trip to the Designer Shoe Warehouse with Molly. Haven't broken it out yet. Matt is very anti-Monkey Backpack. He says it doesn't look like a real monkey :-/

xoxo liza

cathy said...

Can I come next time? That looks like the best vacation ever!!!! Wonderful photos.