Thursday, January 26, 2012

A "snow day" and some valentines...

Today is the first "snow day" of the school year... and yet, there is no snow to be found.  The 2 hour delay that turned into a cancellation was due to freezing rain and icy roads.  It's lovely to get a surprise free day, but I am so missing the wonderful snow we had last winter.  A snow day should include SNOW!

So, I decided to share some "snowy" pictures I took last week end when my husband and I woke up to wonderful, white, fluffy snow covering our neighborhood!   I grabbed my camera and snapped some photos while he shoveled.   I am much better with the camera than I am with the shovel (see the silly photo below)!  I was playing around with an action that I got from Rita at the Coffee Shop Blog called "teeny tiny world".  This fun little action gives the illusion that the item in focus is actually a miniature... like little toys.  I don't think I had the perfect picture to use the action on, but I liked how it turned out (I used it on the photo of myself and the one of my husband on the porch).  Hopefully, winter is going to make a comeback next week!  I'm hopeful... 

The other photos below are sheets of valentine's I created for my nieces and nephews.  I thought it would be fun for them to be able to share a little photo of themselves instead of giving the traditional paper valentine.   They were fun to make and the kids gave their approval... although the older 2 had requests for different photos than the ones I originally included which I was happy to fix.  While I think they are adorable in EVERY photo (yes, I'm biased), I know they have their own opinions about which photos show off their personalities the best.  

I'm happy to make something special for them to share on Valentine's Day!  

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Rink at Arrow Lane

My brother has created an AMAZING ice rink in his backyard.  He started this project 2 years ago and the rink just keeps getting bigger and better every winter!!

When he and I were kids, our parents would take us (and our other 2 siblings) ice skating at the park on a swampy area that would freeze.  It was pretty safe because it was probably less than a foot deep.  We had to bring our shovels and clear off the snow before we could skate... and it was very bumpy, but we still always had a great time!  Afterwards, we would drink hot cocoa in mugs (Santa mugs at Christmastime) with little mini marshmallows.  My mom made us REAL cocoa - she heated milk on the stove, added syrup or cocoa powder and threw in mini marshmallows.  It was YUMMY and warmed us all up after a hour or so of skating.

My nieces and nephews are now enjoying ice skating as well... but they don't have to be driven to the park.  They just walk out their back door.  The rink is huge and my brother makes improvements every year.  This year, he added boards around the rink (complete with sponsor posters and a sign for "the rink at arrow lane") and a bench for watching, or taking a break.  There is often a fire in the outdoor pit and lots of hot cocoa mugs sitting around.  Quite frankly, it's magical.  There are plenty of skates on the rack and lots of visitors come by to enjoy the rink.  I think the neighbors enjoy watching everyone skate as well and last year, the local paper did a story on the rink.  They even included a picture of my niece skating.  She is quite good and LOVES the rink.  Last winter she would get up early so she could skate before school!

It's been so warm lately that we haven't had much rink time.  However, last week end the ice was frozen and the kids were ready to skate!  My youngest niece (who is 2 and a half) got to try out her skates for the very first time.  She was so PROUD of herself!!!   She had lots of help from mom and dad, but she even managed to stand a bit all on her own.

Unfortunately, the temperature rose into the 40's that day and I'm sure the rink was a bit soggy by late afternoon.   ...but not to worry, winter is making a come back today.  It was only 2 degrees when I drove to work this morning so I'm guessing the rink is going to be in great shape this week end!  I'm ready to put my camera down and strap on my skates for a while.  If I can't ski, I'm perfectly happy to be on the ice.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The first REAL snow... it's about TIME!

I woke up this morning to our first REAL snowfall... enough to cover the ground in lovely, whiteness!  I couldn't wait to get out there and snap a few photos.  I shoved my feet into some outdoor slippers and ran out to get a few photos (thank goodness no neighbors were out and about as I was still in my pajamas - smile).  The snow continued most of the day and it FINALLY looks like winter.  My husband and I are excited because this means better skiing conditions as well.  ...although, he isn't excited about shoveling (I did manage to get him to look up and smile while he cleaned off the driveway).

Later in the afternoon I took a walk around the neighborhood and snapped away.  My husband knows where I like to walk and caught up with me (hence, the pictures of him walking up the street).  He let me snap a few photos of him and offered to take one of me as well.

I'm so happy that winter has finally arrived.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

First Day at Snow Trails 2012!

I have been waiting very impatiently for a BIG snow.  Last year at this time my husband and I had been out on the slopes at least 4 times!  This year, however, the weather has felt more like early spring instead of winter.  While most people are enjoying the warm temps., my husband and I are constantly checking the weather to see when it is going to get REALLY cold.  You see, if it is COLD, and mother nature doesn't see fit to dump a load of snow on us, then Snow Trails can make it for us!

We have been skiing once or twice a winter since we started dating.  In the spring of 2010, we decided to purchase memberships to Snow Trails in Mansfield, Ohio.  This is a great place to ski here in Ohio (where there aren't a lot of  mountains... tends to be rather flat where I live).   I don't consider Snow Trails a "mountain" area, but it gets the job done if you love to ski.  It's only an hour away from us and a wonderful place to spend a winter day!  Last winter we took my brother and his family (most of whom had never skied before) and had an amazing day.  The kids picked it up in no time and my 10 year nephew actually skied every run by the end of the day!!

We got up EXTRA early today (well, early for the week end) and by a little past 9am, we were taking our first run down Mt. Mansfield.  It was a glorious day... 30 degrees, no wind, sunshine, blue sky - we were in heaven!  They opened a new run on the far side of the "mountain" (OK, I should call it a really big hill).  It was incredibly beautiful over there this morning... wide open space, sun shining on the tree branches and lovely, groomed snow (man made, but we'll take it!).  We only last about 3 hours (when you start to feel the burn in your legs, it's time to take a break) but, that's not bad for our first day out.  By mid season, we go all day!

The photos below were taken with my Android phone.  Not the greatest quality, but with a little photoshop magic, they will document our first day out this season.  I'm sure there will be more snowy photos... when we actually get some REAL snow.  I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Eve 2011

Well, it is January 2nd and I am finally finishing up my photos from the holidays...  it's a good thing because I start back to school tomorrow morning (5:30am is going to knock me down because I've been on the "sleep 2am and wake 10am" schedule for over a week now... eek!).

Christmas Eve at my parent's house is magical!  They decorate the house from outside to inside and everything has special meaning.  We ALL love seeing those special items that remind us of Christmas holidays from long ago.  There are ornaments that belonged to my grandparents and photos displayed from our childhood Christmas cards.  The nieces and nephews always love looking at them and we often hear them exclaiming how one of THEM looks just like one of US (myself or my siblings).  The outside of the house is beautiful and also has some nostalgic touches.  The sled on the front porch was ridden many times down hills at Hedges Boyer Park and the skates (not sure who actually wore those) remind me of the many times we skated at the Tiffin Developmental Center creek or at the "swamp" area beside the creek at the park (there was always a lot of shoveling required before we could actually skate :-).  The dinner table is decked out in red and green and, of course, there are table prizes (gifts) for each of us.  My parents KNOW how to do Christmas right!

We have lots of traditions... mass at St. Mary's Church, h'ordeuvres in the family room, dinner at the BIG table (and we still manage to squeeze EVERYONE around the table... kids AND adults!) and then gift opening.  The kids are bouncing around like pinballs as soon as they finish eating (that takes about 5 minutes!) but us adults like to sit around at the table chatting and laughing.  This year, we were "whooping" it up for quite some time... the kids had to be extra patient waiting for "Christmas" to begin.  We start in the living room where kids get new pajamas (and run upstairs to immediately put them on!) and everyone gets a special ornament.  We move into the family room and it's just a flurry of gifts and wrapping paper!  It really is quite magical - but then again, Christmas was very magical EVERY year when I was a child.

There is one difference in our Christmas Eve celebrations today as compared to when I was little.  I can remember how excited we would get at my Grandma's house when we heard sleigh bells ringing... that meant that SANTA was coming to see us.  We sat on his lap and he gave us one of our Christmas presents.  We all knew that he was the REAL Santa!  Today, my brother likes to put on his white beard and Santa hat when he arrives for Christmas Eve.  The kids all know it's their Uncle and there is a lot of laughing.  However, the littlest niece (who is just 2), did NOT know it was her uncle and when he walked in the door with a "ho, ho, ho", she screamed in FEAR and ran faster than I've ever seen her into the arms of her mother!   It took a lot of coaxing to get her to see that it was just her Uncle being silly (that is why there is no picture of her with "Santa").  I've posted a photo of me visiting with the REAL Santa (I think I was in in first grade).

As I sit here typing this, I am watching the snow fall gently outside my window.  It's absolutely breathtaking... and very Christmas-y.  I love winter and Christmas is the beginning of this lovely season!  I hope you enjoy viewing the Rombach family Christmas below.  I am so blessed to have such an amazing family!!

... and now it's on to 2012!  Happy New Year!