Girls Only Trip -Day Three

After a full night of horseback riding, rib eating and hay riding, I woke the girls up EARLY on Saturday morning for our Idlewild adventure.

I lived most of my childhood life in Greensburg, PA. As an adult, I am completely SHOCKED at how close Idlewild is to Greensburg. Seriously - as a child and teenager, I thought it was halfway across the State. It's always a weird experience for me to visit my home town.

Anyway - the girls were not very hungry after eating ribs at midnight, so we stopped quickly at McDonald's for breakfast. And then we were off to the park!

We arrived just as the gates were opening. We spent most of the day running from ride to ride.

Most of the rides are of the "spinny" variety, and I have learned to just say no. (Maddie and Zoe are on the top, to the left of center. You can see Maddie's hot pink shorts!).

Aunt Vicky was the only one to meet any "boys" on this trip (thank goodness!!). He was quite the cutie!

Maddie refused to go on the Wild Mouse. I whole heartedly supported her in this decision. How old IS that thing, anyway? Goodness! It opened an hour after the rest of the park because it wasn't passing it's safety inspections!

That Maddie is a smart girl!!

For some reason, those girls expected us to feed them again. I have no idea where they put it! (Pay no attention to the chicken).

Eating french fries with cheese at the park reminds me of my mother. There were years when she would eat french fries with cheese at Idlewild or Kennywood for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She said that it was her one chance per year, and she was going to go for it!!!

After riding and eating, we spent some time at the water park. I didn't take any pictures because I didn't want my camera to get wet. Those girls are like little seals - they go on any slide, dive into the pools without a second thought, swim in water that is 10 feet above their heads. It amazes me.

There was definitely more fun to be had at Idlewild, but I can't fit it in one post! More about Storybook Forest and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood to follow!

Girls Only Trip - Day Two, Part Two

After a long day at the zoo, we returned to the hotel to relax for a minute before heading out for the evening festivities. The girls relaxed by swimming in the pool during a downpour. Me and Aunt Vicky did something a little less ambitious (like watch the girls out the window).

We were scheduled to go on a moonlit horseback ride. The rain made me a little nervous, but the horse people hadn't called to cancel. We stopped for a quick bite at Pizza Hut (pay no attention to the chicken). The girls were mesmerized by the rain - torrential downpours on one side of the restaurant, no rain at all on the other. It was pretty weird.

About 45 minutes from New Stanton is Rolling Hills Ranch. When we arrived, the weather was absolutely, perfectly beautiful.

After seeing a woman thrown from her horse (and almost kicked in the head) last year on our Girls Only Trip, I insisted everyone wear helmets. Aunt Vicky was resistant (she's like that), but eventually we were ready to go.

I forget how many horses they have on the farm, but there were at least 45 people there for the moonlight rides. I've never seen anything like it. They picked your horse based on your size. All of the horses were pretty tame (kinda like riding a carousel).

Zoe (the professional) was the first one on board.

Maddie was second. If you asked Maddie, she'll tell you that horses are her passion. However, once she gets on that horse, she's very serious and looks like she's having a horrible time. I'm not really sure how to take that. But, anyway......

As always, I brought up the rear. It was a beautiful ride. We started at dusk, and were able to appreciate how beautiful the farm was. As the sun set, there were some amazing views. After dark, they had the wooded part of the trail lit up with tiki lights. From the pasture, you could see the entire city of Pittsburgh lit up. I keep saying that it was beautiful because I have no better word to describe it. If I could've pried my hands off the horses saddle, I would have taken some pictures.

It was a funny ride. There were people there with all levels of experience. A few people were clearly frightened of their horses, and you could hear them screaming periodically because the horse moved a step or two off course.

My horse was a little stubborn. Any time I tried to steer, he shook his head violently as if to say "Lady! I've done this a million times. I think I know where I'm going. Please leave me alone to do my job!!" At the end of the ride, he just wanted to run to the barn. That was almost fun.

After the ride, they take all the horses into the barn to get the saddles and stuff off, and to give them a drink. Then, they open the barn doors and let the horses stampede to the pasture. It was an amazing sight. It reminded me of that Disney movie - Spirit - when the horses ran free. It was funny to see them drop to the ground and roll in the dust!! I didn't know horses could do that! (Yep - shows you what I know).

After the horses, we went on a hayride to a campfire in the middle of the ranch.

Once at the campfire, we were served dinner. Ribs, potato salad, pasta salad and rolls. Delicious!

(Yes, I know that I said we ate dinner at Pizza Hut. Pizza was at 5 and the ribs were more of a midnight snack!).

For dessert, we roasted marshmallows around the fire.

Some folks stayed a little longer, but the girls were actually tired at this point and ready to go home. The girls were asleep by the time we got to the hotel. I think they wanted us to carry them in. Once we were in our room, everyone fell asleep immediately. We had exactly 6 hours to sleep before our next adventure!

First Day of School

I know that all my readers were highly engrossed in the Girls Only trip chronicles; however, I wanted to make a tiny little detour to post pictures of the 1st Day of School.

School started this year on July 26th. I know it sounds early, but they get a whole 2 weeks vacation in September / October (which makes it easy to plan a Disney vacation in the off-season). Ginger and Owen were up and dressed this morning before I even got out of the shower. Amazing! I wish they could do that ALL year.

The big news this year is that Ginger is starting kindergarten! I cannot believe that she is old enough to be an elementary school child! She is in a new classroom this year, but with the same teachers. This is a wonderful thing - if you remember, the first time I met Ginger's teacher she took my hand and with tears in her eyes said "You must be SO proud!" Anyone who loves my kids even 1/10th as much as me is royalty in my book.

Owen started 2nd grade! Again, unbelievable. How did these kids get so big? Seriously.

Maddie started 5th. She has always been big. In fact, all summer I swore that she was starting 6th grade. I would say "Maddie!! Aren't you in 6th grade yet?"

Maddie, using her deadpan voice, said "Uhhhh....No."

I'd say "Yay! I'm not as old as I thought!! That's great!"

Maddie, again with the deadpan, said "Please. Just don't dance!"

It's so much fun to embarrass a I mean 5th... grader!

And then there was CoCo. She was disappointed to learn that she doesn't go back to school until Wednesday, but ready to have some much needed alone time with Mom. CoCo hasn't been alone with me since forever (being the youngest has it's disadvantages).

And so ends another big day at the Rader house.

Good night!

The Kissing Camel

This was Aunt Vicky's favorite part of the Living Treasures Animal Park.

I think the pictures say it all.

Girls Only Trip - Day Two

We started day 2 of our Girls Only trip bright and early. In all the years I lived in Pennsylvania, I had seen signs for Living Treasures Animal Park and wished I could go. It sounded so glamorous and exotic. My mother thought it was too far to go for a day trip. In those days, driving more than 15 minutes was considered far. This would have taken about 45 minutes. Anyway, I digress. Since I am now the mom, I decided that it was time to finally visit the park.

The park was a little hard to find - it is behind a hotel, and you have to park in the hotel's parking lot. Weird.

When we got inside, we discovered that this is a great little zoo! It's everything I ever imagined. Lots of farm animals and babies, lots of exotic animals, and lots of birds. What more could we ask for?

We had a quick but fierce downpour, resulting in all the animals coming out of hiding. We got to see a pack of wolves that otherwise would've hidden themselves during the day. Very cool. Zoe kept yelling "Jacob!! Where are you!!!" but he wasn't there.

We finished the day in the zoo's gift shop (of course), where we found some pretty horse paintings for Maddie's soon to be new room.

So, yes. The zoo lived up to my every expectation.