What does that mean for the casual traveler like me? You must call and get permission to access the site. Don’t just show up!
The Mohican Outdoor School has field trip groups on many days and the first time I called they said we could not visit. If you’re coming from out of town, you can call and set up a time in advance, but since we live close-by I just called on a particularly nice day to see if the site was available.
The Falls are actually across the street from the School. My directions were to go to the school first and check-in. Don’t do like I did and mistake someone’s home for the office! Oye! The school office is actually located just below the visitor parking area. If you see a dumpster, you’re on the right track (how welcoming)! The director I spoke with (after opening the door to her personal home), said they are working on getting better signage. Thank you and amen. 🙂
After you park near the Field Trip Center (across the road from the school), you will need to follow signs that are located on tall poles or trees. They aren’t the easiest to find!
We actually got off of the trail at one part and needed to cross the creek on foot to get back on the trail. There are no blazes.
Then, once we got to the bridge where you view the falls, there were signs saying the trail we were on was actually closed. Uhhh???
Normally I would have turned around, but I thought I should honor the sign. So on the way back we followed signs for the “main trail” and we ended up about 300 yards down the road from our van. Hmmmm.
If you go, I’d ask for very clear directions from the Outdoor School. I would not have been concerned except I was alone with my three kids AND there is no cell phone reception in this area. That’s not the best combination!
The Hemlock Falls trail is slippery when muddy, so wear your boots! Also, our youngest is 3 and she was able to manage the trail with a little help from me. I wouldn’t bring much younger children unless you have them in a hiking carrier. It’s very hilly.
The # to call for Mohican School of Outdoors: 419-938-6671
Hemlock Falls is located approximately 25 minutes south of Mansfield, OH or 30 minutes north of Mount Vernon, OH.
It’s crazy to believe we are racing to the finish of our second year of homeschooling! I’ve made changes to our approach this year, as I’ve learned more about myself and more about my son!
Last year seemed like the year of personality struggles and the big adjustment to schooling full-time.
This year feels like a full-blown attempt at scheduling & curricula.
Things you should know:
Momma doesn’t always know best (sshhh don’t tell anyone)
The hardest part of homeschooling for me, has been that I’m a recoveringcontrol-drivenperfectionist. I think every day should follow the schedule which is set apart in my happy little noggin. Then, all of my dominion shall act like scholarly little subordinates who love learning and enjoy worksheets as much as a young Leah did. When do I get my way? About 1 out of 15 days. Maybe once a month.
I’m learning to choose my battles. I go “old school” in that I try to focus all of my energy on that which I think is most important- reading, writing and arithmetic. Then I read (to the children) some more.
Sometimes I’m discouraged because I feel like something I’ve chosen isn’t working for us and so I’ll spend a day or days or weeks trying to tweak. I have to tell myself, THIS IS WHY WE DO IT…because we can tweak it and we can make our boy get the most out of it.
Basically, like most things good things in life, homeschooling is work and it does take some adjustments!
It’s hard to keep the troops in line
I really thought life with 3 under 4 was the 3-ring circus, well it turns out life with a 1st grader, preschooler, and energetic 3 year old can be just as hectic. One of our major battles is distraction (which is probably true in a public/private school room, too). The younger kids listen in for our read-aloud time (we’re on our third book in The Little House series) and Bible. Beyond that, if they are wanting to be more involved, they’ll do map time during history or I’ll pull out some alphabet flashcards. I also have age-appropriate workbooks if they want to join. For preschool books, C has cheapos from The Dollar Tree. Olen is very particular about any workbook (he’s my hands-on man) so I have these Star Wars books which he adores!!
One of the major changes I felt happened between kindergarten and first grade is that a schedule was even more important. I’ve used a planner like THIS the past two years and I love how easily I can break down our days and still have a space to write the things I need to do, too. I’m a planner by nature and I think Jackson needs to know what’s expected each day, too!
I usually only plan a week or two ahead. Most of the time I do this while Jackson is working on math problems so it doesn’t eat time out of the evening.
Due to The Plan, we don’t get out of the house as much as did last year. In the spring and fall we’re playing outside, but I’m really missing the playdates and social time! We DID just move though so I think we’re just generally missing our friends — along with March cabin fever.
Curriculum loves and hates
I shared in the recap of our first year about our curriculum choices. We changed our phonics from A beka to Explode the Code and I’m thankful we did! It’s just a much simpler format for both of us! I ended up buying A beka 1st grade History because it covered US History and countries of the world, but I don’t love it. I’m considering putting the boys in Classical Conversations next year- so if I do- we’ll have history covered.
We’re continuing to use Long Story Short for our Bible time and I really can’t imagine using anything else.
For science we’re bouncing around between some Charlotte Mason work and Our Father’s World. I like both, but the Charlotte Mason is a nature study with many outside things and well, this is Ohio. 😉
Maybe the most welcome change since the new year is that we now have a school room! It’s still evolving, but I’m so thankful I’m not longer clearing books so we can eat, then cleaning the table so we can restart school. Gosh, it’s just made the day a lot easier!
So that’s a little (800 word) update on what’s been happening at Yoder Academy. What does your homeschool day look like? Do you feel like you run a three-ring circus? Any thoughts on Classical Conversations?
The way people talked about having kids, I thought my life was ovvveerrr once we had a few babies. But hooray- it doesn’t have to be! If you’re a natural explorer you can still get out and enjoy fantastic scenery WITH kids in tow.
These 5 Ohio places have been tried and tested by our family. Some are even stroller-friendly!
Hocking Hills area
Hocking Hills is full of natural beauty in all seasons! One of our favorite times to visit is winter because of all of the ice formations.
Two areas in particular are perfect for parents of small children: Ash Cave and Conkles Hollow. Ash Cave has a 1/4 mile handicap accessible trail that is perfect for strollers or new walkers. The trail does get very busy on weekends, holidays, and in the fall, so plan accordingly (i.e. you may NEED the stroller for containment).
Conkles Hollow has a one mile disabled access trail. This is also perfect for a stroller, BUT due to the cliff walls, a lot of sunlight does not hit the sidewalk. We’ve found this trail to be fairly icy and slushy in winter. Make sure kids wear snow boots, and you may want to forego the stroller. The ice formations on the rocks make this totally worth a little slipping and sliding! In summer, this is the perfect place to give the stroller a go- I’d stick with a single if possible because the trail isn’t very wide.
A ancient flint deposit used by Native Americans and now owned by the Ohio Historical Society, Flint Ridge has a few different hiking options for your family. One of the trails is mostly boardwalk/paved trail and is perfect for for strollers. There are other trails past the museum that are ok for ages 2+ to walk (no steep cliff faces). We visited last winter and it was MUDDY, so don’t wear good shoes. The museum is open March-October, so plan accordingly.
Located near Flint Ridge is Blackhand Gorge. Blackhand Gorge is named after a sandstone formation. A four-mile bike trail is perfect for your family’s stroller or bikes, and you’ll still see lots of great scenery even if you don’t get off of the beaten path. The Canal-Lock trail showcases of piece of the Old Ohio-Erie Canal towpath. The kids will love this, and even toddlers could handle the walk (with a little help from mom or dad). More info HERE.
Ohio’s first and only National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park really surprised me! My favorite spot in the park was the Virginia Kendall State Park (aka The Ledges). This wouldn’t be ideal for a stroller, but I’d say ages 4+ would have no problems handling the stairs and grades. Within Ohio, this is second only to Hocking Hills as a place that will remind your family how small we really are in comparison to Creation.
Deep Lock Quarry (within Summit Metro Parks) is also very doable with young ones. This trail would be best used with a jogging stroller and you will have to miss one small part of the loop, BUT it’s still worth the trip. Our kiddos loved climbing on the giant sandstone rocks. More info HERE.
This Ohio nature preserve doesn’t involve an vigorous hike, but it does offer up views of a rare coastal wetland habitat. The kids enjoyed viewing different birds, seeing lots of chipmunks, and then ending up on the shores of Lake Erie. This path is definitely stroller-friendly until you get to the beach (no swimming allowed).
I know I normally write about family travel destinations, but there’s another aspect of travel makes me a little cray to the Z every month and that’s when my husbands travels for his job.
Ever since we just had one teeny tiny baby, Mr. YT has been leaving me for 2-3 nights per month. I know some of you have a husband that travels much more more- so I shouldn’t complain. In reality, in 7 years it’s never gotten easier but it has gotten more manageable.
While Mr. YT was away this week, I realized that in years past I could have used a little advice on what to do on days when he wouldn’t be home in the evenings to give me a little relief.
Here are 5 things I do to maintain my sanity (and a little bit of order) whilst the husband is away:
Sleep (or lack thereof) is super important. You have to take the age-old advice and nap when baby naps. If your kids are a little older, don’t feel guilt over turning on the TV or sending them to their rooms so you can get a little shut-eye. I can go from Mommy Dearest to the Wicked Witch in about 17 seconds if I haven’t had enough sleep, so I KNOW that if I am going to make it through the marathon I have to close my eyes to the mess and just REST.
Eat. Eating is my favorite. No, really. Mealtimes with little ones are stressful at best, downright chaotic at their worst. I’ve noticed that in order to help with my own sanity I will eat my meal while I’m cooking for the kids. That way, if I’m getting up and down a lot while they eat, I’ve already suppressed my own hanger (#notjoking). Before your husband skips town, grab a frozen pizza, mac n cheese, whatever convenience foods you’re going to need to make dinner time be easy. “Snack lunch” is a personal fave of mine- cheese and crackers, grapes, single serve applesauce, yogurt, those type of things that are easy & easy to get on a plate. This is not the time to be Julia Childs. You can also use lunch time to do read-aloud… I read and drink coffee, they eat in peace. Winning!
Bedtimes. There is only one of you, so start early. My kids always try the stall method 20x worse when Daddy isn’t around so be kind, but firm– You’re just down the hall. I’ve found that calling Daddy right before book time can give them a happy little assurance that they can go to sleep and all is well.
Plan ahead for adult time. I’m an extrovert by nature, so being inside with 3 kids for 3-4 days can be a little hairy. Think of simple ways to speak to adults without creating a lot of work. Playdates can work (pick a neutral place so you don’t have to clean!). A Skype date with a faraway friend. Asking a child-free friend to stop by after work for a coffee date. These are all things to refuel that don’t require a lot of work. If you have babysitters that can do daytime, this may be the time to spend a little money and head out on your own.
Lower your expectations. My #1 piece of motherhood advice is also the most important for the weeks my husband travels. This is not the time to be a screen-time martyr. This is not the time to start the Whole 30. This is not the time to dive into painting or reorganizing the house. Get up. Get dressed. Be present. Having a husband that travels is not always easy. Try to connect with him positively – now that mostly involves my kids sending him Snapchat videos of our day or me texting him in the a.m. to remind him I miss him.
Does your husband travel for work? What things do you do to save your sanity?
2016 was a year of big travel and big changes for our family. We traveled Down Under in January and moved an hour away from our home of 7 years just two days after Christmas. Now that the boxes are unpacked we’re settled in to our new city (kinda) – I wanted to share with the world our travel plans for 2017.
That’s some lofty travel goals! Good thing we have 11. 5 months.
Outside of Ohio, we don’t have a bunch of concrete plans.
One trip that is booked is Topsail Island, North Carolina. Our family has been there numerous times, I think this will be Mr. YT and I’s 9th time! On our last visit C was only 9 months old, so this time should (hopefully) be a little more relaxed- and include more sleep.
On the way to the beach I’d like to cross off New River Gorge, WV. This National River was on my list last year, but the timing never quite worked out! It’s only a quick jaunt off of I-77 so I don’t see why we couldn’t leave a couple of days early for NC.
Fort Wayne, IN- June will take us to Fort Wayne for the Mr’s work conference. (Last year it was at Belterra Resort & Casino and we traveled alone). We’re planning to bring the kids this time and make it a family adventure. Did you know that Fort Wayne has one of the Top 10 zoos in the nation?
Beyond that, we hope to do another week of travel in the USA or Canada. I’m thinking a Canadian Road Trip to Montreal and Quebec City might be fabulous, but then I get sidetracked thinking of some Southwest miles we’ve accrued and how we could use them for Texas (Joanna Gaines, I love you) or Southern California. My van is OLD (we only buy used cars with cash) so I’m not sure it could even handle a road trip. Maybe that will pressure is into flying!
I’ve also got my eye on a few flower festivals. Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan is fairly close to home and looks like a fun weekend. I’d also like to head south again- New Orleans? The Lowcountry? Eh, first things first- we better sell our vacant home.
Have you made your travel plans for 2017? Where are you headed? Have you been to Fort Wayne?
Blogland is full of lists- Best gifts for travelers! Best gifts for boys aged 7-12! Best gifts for dad!
This is the list titled– Best Gifts for Leah Yoder — fully egocentric and very specific. Friends, since I can’t have a 10-day Pacific Islands cruise with my family (and a nanny), I’ve resorted to a traditional list.
I wrote this for 2 reasons.
So I don’t receive a turkey baster wrapped in a Target bag (We made it through that one, Mr. YT) 😉
Because I want to know what you want. So that’s your job in the comments.
So here’s my list. Some of affiliate links (no cost to you, but the 20 cent commission may help Mr YT afford my taste in boots)!
#1- I love these boots. We’re moving to the snowbelt and my Uggs are not going to handle the wet snow. I just wish I’d had these in Canada.
#2- I’ve been wanting a functional world map- good for school and décor. This one I found on Amazon takes the cake, and it comes with push-pins to mark where you have been!
#3- I’m a homeschool mom, and I’ve gotten this book from the public library more than once. I think it’s probably time I buy it for our home library.
#4- I was born in 1983, right around the time Return of the Jedi hit the big screen. So our names aren’t quite the same, but I still adore this mug!
#6- Have you seen prints by Lindsay Letters? I’m thinking this one would be perfect for a gallery wall in the new homeschool room.
#7 & #8 We’ve started the Little House series for our read-aloud time of homeschool. Through that, I realized that it would be helpful if our family had a set of our own (instead of having to renew it multiple times)! I saw the Little House coloring book at T.J. Maxx and it is GORGEOUS, but I was too cheap to buy it ($10 for coloring?) However, this could be 3 pm therapy for me and the littles! Lol.
So what’s on your 2016 Christmas list? Boots? Jewelry? A nanny? A turkey baster?
Today I have my dear friend Richelle Z. sharing about her love and knowledge of Scandinavia. Richelle is from the Midwest (she was my R.A. in college!), but is now living and working in the UK. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia. Thanks so much, Richelle!____________________________________________________________
The idea of ‘hygge’ has been everywhere these days (Google it- the results will surprise you!). You can read books about this Danish art of living, raise your children in accordance with this philosophy, cook meals that represent this way of life, and even transform yourself into a happier person by following these principles. While I can’t profess to being an expert in the art of hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-ga’), I must admit that there is something alluring about Denmark, and, Scandinavia as a whole, and this new-found interest in ‘hygge’ has made me think more and more about the unique aspects of Scandinavia that truly set it apart.
After six trips to the region (and an awful lot of time spent in Scandi cafes in London!), this is what ‘hygge’ means to me and why I believe the entire region of Scandinavia has something to offer all ages.
Reykjavik: Other-worldly landscapes and awe-inspiring natural beauty
Reykjavik was my first brush with Scandinavia. My sister and I had ten hours in between a flight to London to explore the city. Of course, it wasn’t nearly enough time, but it did give us a small sense of what Iceland has to offer.
Oslo is one of my favorite cities. There was a formality about it that really resonated with me, but it was also very quirky and hip at the same time. I loved the bright buildings and the connection that one felt with the sea and nature. Norway also has a proud history of discovery and exploration, and this was surely felt in Oslo with the many statues of Roald Amundsen, the famous Arctic explorer.
I like this photo that was taken in a cemetery near our Airbnb flat because it represented such a tranquil space (it was also a garden park in the city center). The gravestones had a very spartan quality that was in stark contrast to the many gravestones I’ve seen in London in Highgate Cemetery or Brompton Cemetery. The day after I took this photo, it snowed and the entire place was lightly dusted with soft white powder.
This photo was taken at Vigeland Park, the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. The park was brimming with sculptures of people in strange poses, as you can see by the photo of me with Vigeland’s art. I’ve chosen a tamer sculpture here so as not to frighten Leah’s young readers, as there were some rather strange ones.
Bergen: Charming seaside fronts and UNESCO World Heritage sites
Bergen is one of the most charming places I’ve ever been and may even give Salzburg a run for its money in terms of being the most charming city on earth. In addition to strolling along the historic Bryggen, the city’s historic wharf and UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was most interesting to wander through the little neighborhoods behind the water. Not surprisingly, the seafood was outstanding, but, visitors beware, everything in Bergen is terrifyingly expensive. A simple pint will set you back £8, for instance, and most starters are around £10-16, which I consider a bit high for an appetizer.
This is the beautiful wharf, Bryggen, which is also a little labyrinth of shops and cafes, albeit slightly touristy ones these days. The site is extremely well preserved and belies the fact that it dates back to the 1350s.
To get the best view of Bergen, climb to the top of Fløibanen mountain, one of the city’s Seven Mountains that surround it. You can hike to the peak of the mountain or you can take a cable car. We actually chose to hike, which friends of mine would find quite surprising. My advice to other would-be climbers is to wear proper hiking shoes, not pointed toe flats. The reward for your hard work, however, will be this stunning view along with a glimpse of the trolls who dot the top of the mountain (yes, there are trolls!).
Copenhagen: One of the world’s most liveable cities as well as a haven for cyclists
Copenhagen stands out to me as one of the most liveable cities I’ve ever visited. This may also be due to the fact that I absolutely loved our Airbnb flat, but I think there is more substance to back up that claim. The trains in Denmark are efficient to a tee, it’s easy to cycle everywhere (in fact, most people get around entirely by bicycle in Copenhagen), and the overall quality of living seemed very high.
Stockholm: Beautiful churches combined with an innovative food and art scene
We only had a short three-day weekend to spend in Stockholm, but it was certainly long enough to get a taste of the city and confirm that we absolutely need to return. Stockholm had all of the hallmarks of a great Scandinavian city to me- extremely clean and efficient travel infrastructure, close proximity to water and natural beauty, eclectic churches, and an overall austere feel to the streets and neighborhoods. Two of my favorite churches are pictured here:
Helsinki: World-renowned design district and the Moomins
Helsinki is a strange city in that I’m not sure it fully identifies as being Scandinavian. Technically, yes, Finland geographically finds itself within Scandinavia, but it also shares characteristics with Russia and the Baltics, given its proximity to and history with that region. Yet, after exploring Helsinki for a few days, I did come to the conclusion that it was a true Scandi city, deeply possessing all of the things I’ve come to love about that part of the world. The food was off-beat and interesting, the coffee was amazing, the architecture had that clean austerity about it, and one could be close to nature.
Helsinki stands apart from its more glamorous cousins of Oslo and Stockholm with a strong identity rooted in design. The Design District comprises street after street of shops filled with contemporary designs and, in true Scandi tradition, they were extremely expensive.
Have you been to Scandinavian? Favorite city? Maybe you follow hygge? I’d love to hear!
Walnut Creek,Ohio is known for rolling hills, idyllic farmland, craft shops, and family-style foods. It’s a hospitable place, one oozing with country-styled B & Bs and hotels. That’s absolutely awesome- if that is your style. But if you’re looking for something a little more edgy, shiny, and modern- I recommend taking a closer look at The Wallhouse Hotel.
We stayed as guests of The Wallhouse in a premium corner suite. The two-room suite was extra large. I don’t know about you, but this mama can get a little crabby when we’re all packed in like sardines, don’t worry, you will have plenty of space here.
The fridge is also a helpful size for storing leftovers (oh, those hearty Amish meals) and there was a microwave as well.
The sofa was a pull-out bed. Our kids are used to sleeping on these when we stay in smaller suites so they volunteered to sleep in the living room. This was probably so they could get their own TV. Nonetheless, there are two TVs in the suite, which means the kiddos can be watching Disney Jr, while you and the hubs relax with a little Chip & Joanna Gaines.
The bedroom was large enough to sleep 4. I loved the little office nook. The window there offered a great view of the valley:
My only complaint about the room was the bathroom. Now, don’t get me wrong, the bathroom is roomy and high-end. I love the title work throughout and the huge, walk-in shower. Here’s the deal, though- the bathroom ONLY has a shower. It isn’t a deal breaker for us because our youngest is old enough to stand in the shower, but if I was traveling with a baby or toddler, I’d want to know ahead of time. So, now you know!
The Wallhouse Hotel builds “fresh” into their hotel by using solid surfaces that can be wiped clean. You can see that the above bathroom is immaculate, but even common seating areas and the lobby screamed “clean.” No moldy looking fake flowers in these spaces! As a mom, knowing that everything can be easily disinfected (did you see the dura-leather sofa in the suite?) is a HUGE perk.
My kids were also totally smitten by the pool. If you follow me on Facebook, I posted that when my kids were headed for the pool, an employee saw them and offered up a giant basket of pool noodles and floaties. Be still my mama heart! They would have stayed all day if we had let them!
I love food almost as much as I love my family #jokingnotjoking. Breakfast is included at the hotel and it’s not just some cereal and a donut, it’s a full, hearty meal. I always look for hotels that offer a full breakfast because it saves us money in the long run. If all of our bellies are full we avoid extra snacking and an early lunch, which also helps with the extra calories after those maple-glazed cinnamon rolls! Haha!
I think The Wallhouse Hotel would be a great stop for your family on your next Amish Country adventure. If you live nearby, it would also make the perfect staycation. Give me my own TV and some cinnamon rolls and I am SOLD!
Have you been to Amish Country before? Have you ever done a staycation? Maybe you’re mad for cinnamon maple rolls like me?
**We were provided accommodation at The Wallhouse Hotel, however, all opinions are my own**
Everyone is blogging their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, and I’m here to say, “Just take me away!” We’ve been in a particularly busy season here at the Yoder casa (more on that later) and I’m realizing just how much I desire less STUFF and more TIME.
Family memories and experiences are always TOPS on my list, so I compiled a list of six vacation rentals ya’ll can book that offer post-holiday relaxation. Maybe we should all stop the gift-giving and just go on vacation? I vote YES.
My criteria for picking these rentals was:
They had to fit my family of 5
The price had to be reasonable. I think the most expensive one is $215/night- not bad considering all have at least 2 bedrooms.
(Some of these would not be ideal to visit January-March, but that’s ok, just having something to look forward to will get me through the dark days of Ohio winters.)
2. Lake Louise and the Canadian Rockies really proved to be magical. I’d love to go back with the entire family during summer so we could enjoy more of the hiking trails when it isn’t FREEZING. Grey Owl Lodge would be perfect.
3. We visited Sanibel Island for a day while in Florida last year, but I’d love to go back and have more time! This condo has a great view AND a great pool- the perfect combo for the post-holiday letdown.
4. Southern Arizona offers up some serious scenery, sunsets, and stargazing! Our friends just stayed at this home near Tuscon and I’m smitten by the desert at dusk.
5. Kauai has been on my Bucket List for ages. The mountain views from this “Garden Isle” condo are just what I want for Christmas (hint, hint, Santa!).
6. This home has been on my Airbnb Wish List for awhile. Located in the mountains of Virginia, the home looks out across the Shenandoah Valley. I’ll be in that rocker if you need me.
Any stand out to you? Maybe you’ve booked a vacation instead of giving traditional gifts? Maybe you’re ready to escape, too? I’d love to know!
If you’d love to travel with Airbnb- Here is MY LINK to get started!
**This is not a sponsored post, but may contain affiliate links**