Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The good ol' days of Kings Island

A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook this morning which made me take a very long walk down memory lane.

The days when Kings Island was just Kings Island. It wasn't owned by any big to do movie maker, it was Kings Island period. Hanna Barbara land, the Beer Gardens, THE first stand up roller coaster, the Screamin Demon, Scoobie Doo, the scrambler was called the scrambler and the monster was the Octopus.

The screamin Demon

The King Cobra ( the first standing roller coaster)

When the train ride in Frontier land was actually a ride and not just transportation to other areas of the park.

When in Hanna Barbara Land the characters would dress up and would be around the park all day long and not just at "scheduled" times. When the shows were great and you didn't go see them just to cool off in the air conditioning.

This was one of my brother's favorite rides when he was little.

When you could see a dolphin and sea lion show and even get wet if you sat close enough. When you could only eat LaRosa's pizza if you were at Kings Island and it was the best pizza you had ever eaten. (I still think it is better at Kings Island).

When you could ride the Flying Eagles and they didn't trim the trees so your eagle could skim the branches if you got it high enough. It was the ultimate test of your flying skills, that and the buckling of the cord your eagle was hanging from. My mom was the best at this.

When blue ice cream was blue because of the Smurfs... not just because blue is cool. When people would stand in line forever to drive the old time cars.

When you had to follow the Beast foot prints to find the line to the Beast.

When ALL the turn stiles were open and by the time you were done standing in line for a roller coaster you were friends with everyone around you in line.

When it was cool to carve "I was here" on the wood pillars while standing in line for the Beast, as well as spitting into the water below to watch the fish come up and eat it.

When rumors were told of animal sacrifices being done in the tunnels of the Beast. ( I said a prayer each and every time I went through one of those tunnels in high school just in case.)

The Beast: Open April 14th, 1979 and just celebrated it's 30th year and shows no sign of slowing down.

The record-breaking features of The Beast include:
· A 7,400-foot long track (1.4 miles) and ride time of four minutes, 10 seconds.
· Drops of 135 feet (at a 45-degree angle) and 141 feet (at an 18-degree angle).
· A 125-foot long underground tunnel at the bottom of the 135-foot drop.
· Eight banked turns, some to 45 degrees.
· A massive 540-degree helix tunnel near the end.
· Speeds up to 64.77 miles per hour.

When the red and blue racers actually raced one another and you didn't have the choice to ride backwards.

Remember the bat? I loved the bat, it was one of my favorites.

I know we now have Top Gun.... but I am sorry friends.... it just isn't the same.

Remember the big red, white and blue super slide? Oh how I loved to go down the big slide. What about the ride where you would spin around and around and then the floor would drop out? I can't remember the name of it can you?

I remember walking around Kings Island and never getting tired until we were walking to the car after the fire works. I don't think I ever stayed awake long enough to see us exit the parking lot.

Ahhh, those were the good ol days.

Check out the YouTube video... this will REALLY take you back. Click here and Enjoy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Monarch Butterfly

Fall is one of my favorite seasons; I love to watch the dance of the cool, crisp, breeze with the newly fallen leaves. I love sweatshirts, caramel apples, pumpkins and apple pies. The list goes on and on but I think my most favorite is the migration of the Monarch Butterfly.

As I drive down the road or sit along the sideline of a soccer game, I can't help but notice the flutter of this beautiful butterfly in late September. When I see one of these little guys I get swept up in the magnificence of their life span, migration and global positioning.

These beautiful insects have a brain about the size of a grain of salt. These butterflies, after leaving their cocoon in late September, know they are the 4th generation of butterflies this year. They know they are the great grandchild of the Monarch Butterflies who flew to Mexico last fall and they know it is their job to make the same journey. How they know we are not sure.

Not only do they know they are the 4th generation, but they also know exactly where they are to go. They have never been to Mexico, but somehow they know how to get to the Biosphere Reserve without having to stop for directions. We had to purchase a GPS to assure we wouldn't get lost while driving on vacation to an area we have visited several times before.

It gets better. The Monarchs who hatch here in Ohio know they are to head to Mexico, however, the Monarchs who hatch in the western states head to California. The generations who hatched in May and June or July and August die after 2-6 weeks of becoming a butterfly. The 4th generation however lives up to 8 months and they travel south to hibernate. They meet up with over tens of thousands of other butterflies where they blanket the trees and bushes to keep warm together.

After hibernation they make the journey back north to mate, lay eggs and start the process all over again.

To me this is yet another example of God's love and His attention to detail in our lives. He created the Monarch Butterfly to know it's path in life and I believe He created us to do the same. We mess our GPS up by getting detoured by society and by what we think is a better route, but He continues to say "recalculating" as He gently redirects us in the right direction.

He created this butterfly with such intricate detail that no one can understand their migration. I feel blessed to have the opportunity ( short as it may be) to witness this spectacular event.

As you see these little fellows fluttering south this fall; wish them a safe journey so we may see them again in the spring.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thoughts to remember

*Disclaimer....sappy post*

My mind has been rambling for quite a while now and sometimes I can't make sense of my thoughts. I am using this post as an organizer for my thoughts today.

Recently I have been thinking much clearer. I again feel those little tugs at my heart and my soul which I have not felt in a long time.

I have always struggled with the concept of Grace and my worthiness of God's love. I think it stems sometimes from my insecurities and my lack of self worth. I am so much better today than I used to be (learning to silence my inner critic), I still have those random thoughts of "why me Lord" when I feel like an ant and then other thoughts I feel in sync with God and completely get it.

Today I get it. I feel over joyed with God's love and I feel his presence again in my life. I have been in a fog for a long while; not feeling much of anything. I didn't have a desire to do things I used to enjoy much less than do things God called me to do. I have a desire again... a fire burning inside me that excites me.

I was scared for a long time thinking I had lost my fire for God or that He had lost His fire for me. I didn't feel His presence (which was something I was used to feeling from a very young age) I felt dead. I felt God was just barely out of reach, like the picture above with the life preserver.

One of my pathways to God is through nature. I prayed and prayed to feel God again during our trip to Canada in 2004. I felt nothing while we were there. I was surrounded by God's glory in this beautiful setting and I didn't feel God. Later I realized God didn't want me to find him 2000 miles from home, He wanted me to feel him right here.... in my house, through my kids, in the eyes of a caring friend and through the love of my spouse.

I was in this valley for a very long time... seemed like an eternity. I doubted my faith and my purpose in life. I had a stretch of time where we dealt with a lot. Medical issues, loss of loved ones (my mother especially) loss of pets, jobs, friends.. you name it we lost it. I was not where I needed to be when all this hit, which was on my knees. Instead I dealt with it the way I felt would be best. I held it all in... I didn't talk about it much.. and I certainly didn't turn it over to God. I was rather angry at God actually. I remember shortly after my mom died I had quite a few heated discussions with Him during the day when I was alone in the house. ( I am sure anyone walking past our house that fall felt I had lost my mind... and maybe I did for a while)

Looking back now I see God was there for me and I refused to see Him. I pushed Him away and He continually said "I am here and I will not leave you alone". They say when you go through rough times you really know who your friends are and that is so true. Greg and I are surrounded by incredible friends and they all came running when we needed them. Nothing anyone can say will take away the pain, but knowing you are loved does a lot for a broken heart. God was big and in person through our friends.

Greg has been my rock and has seen me through a lot. He has been one of the best gifts God has ever given me and I thank Him every day for allowing me to share my life with him. Greg is yet another example of God's love that has stayed beside me and has never wavered. I love him more each day and I appreciate all that he has given and continues to give me.

I could go on and on and on about God's gift of our children and the joy they bring me. I was watching a child the other day while at a friends house. He was watching a moth outside on their porch flutter around in the light. His eyes were large with amazement and his face lit with excitement. I remember watching our own children with the same look of amazement on their face... what a great joy it has been to be their mother. It just keeps getting better every day.

Each time I lose a loved one I feel life getting shorter and shorter. We are here for such a short time and I want to make the best of it. I want to love and embrace my family and not waste a single moment arguing. I want to experience the life God intended for me to the fullest. I heard this Mercy Me song the other day and it spoke to my heart....

"In The Blink Of An Eye"

You put me here for a reason
You have a mission for me
You knew my name and You called it
Long before I learned to breathe

Sometimes I feel disappointed
By the way I spend my time
How can I further Your kingdom
When I'm so wrapped up in mine

In a Blink of an eye that is when
I'll be closer to You than I've ever been
Time will fly, but until then
I'll embrace every moment I'm given
There's a reason I'm alive for a blink of an eye

And though I'm living a good life
Can my life be something great?
I have to answer the question
Before it's too late

Cause in a Blink of an eye that is when
I'll be closer to You than I've ever been
Time will fly, but until then
I'll embrace every moment I'm given
There's a reason I'm alive for a blink of an eye

If I give the very best of me
That becomes my legacy
So tell me what am I waiting for?
What am I waiting for?

In a Blink of an eye that is when
I'll be closer to You than I've ever been
Time will fly, but until then
I'll embrace every moment I'm given

So, why all the sappiness you might ask? Well for starters I read my blog.... I go back a lot and re-read what I have written and kinda analyze myself and where I was when I wrote it. I want to remind myself during those tough times (cause I know there will be more) that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and would never leave me, I have a spouse and 2 children that continually fill me with joy and love, AND on top of all of that I have incredible friends and family.

I am me again and I love it. I haven't been me for a long time so if I was distant, not caring, thoughtless or "dead" to you I am so sorry. It was never my intention. I plan to be a better person than I have been over the past several years.

My prayer for today is that I continue to be open to those tugs at my heart and that you may be too.... they are there whether we take the time to feel them or not.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Can Hunger

Last weekend we teamed up with our church to help can hunger. The idea was for 500 families to have a party/cookout and invite 20 people over Labor Day weekend. If those 20 people brought at least 10 cans of food to the party then each party would produce 200 cans. 200 cans times 500 is 100,000 cans. The goal was for Southbrook Christian Church to donate 100,000 cans of food to the Miami Valley food pantry for the winter.

This weekend we will deliver the food back to the church and next weekend we will find out if we met our goal as a church. I know we met our personal party goal collecting 201 cans. Thank you to all who donated!

It was a great day sitting around eating and chatting with friends while collecting food for the homeless at the same time. The cook out started around 5:00 and didn't end until after 11:30. What a great idea!

Here are some pictures of those who came to help can hunger. Lots of friends dropped off food too who could not stay to eat. Becky Smith, Jan Dorsak, Beth Hanes, Joy Pierce, Grandma Hoff, Judy and Larry and the Eyre family. THANK YOU!

As the evening progressed the party activities started to become rather unusual for a typical cookout. We have never been known to do anything the typical or "normal" way so it doesn't surprise me a bit.

Our neighbor Janice's necklace got caught on our table and broke causing her diamond to fall under our deck. It was dark outside by that time and it was very difficult to see under the deck even with a flashlight.

We searched for a while and finally found it hidden under a leaf. The tricky part now was getting it up through the cracks of the deck. Greg and I decided to use our sticky gum trick to see if it would work.

I chewed the gum.... then we stuck it on the end of a stick.

Greg then proceeded to try to pull the diamond up through the cracks with it stuck to the gum on the stick.
It worked!!! You can't see it because this isn't a good picture, but the diamond was stuck to the gum. Maybe a little sticky, but safe and found. :)

After all the excitement from the diamond hunt Greg and Keith thought it would be fun to go for a wagon ride. It was bad enough that they rode around our yard but they took it to the street and ended up holding up traffic from a soccer game that just let out down the street. I would have been extremely embarrassed, however they thought it was great.

It was a fun day filled with laughter and good times to remember.... we plan to definitely do this again next year. Thanks again to all who helped make can hunger such a success. I will post later the final count of cans donated from the church as a whole.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Proverbs truth

"Train a child in the way he/she should go, and when he is old he/she will not turn from it." --Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

I understand the meaning behind this verse, and I know it has nothing to do with the example I am choosing to compare it to today but, I plan to tie it all together in the end... bare with me.

We visited Las Vegas many years ago when the kids were was very young. I know, you are probably thinking what parent takes their children (especially their young children) to Las Vegas for a family vacation? Well, before you start calling children services we have family who live in Vegas and we were there visiting. We did have to dodge a few gentleman (if you can call them that) trying to hand out nude flyer's to Greg (while he was walking with his children and holding his wife's hand) to try to entice him to visit one of their "girlie" places. But other than that we found many places that were very child and family friendly. Since then Vegas has gotten even better in accommodating families. Not that you still can't find the other stuff, but it isn't in your face as much.

One of the child friendly places we visited was an indoor amusement park......Adventure Dome or something like that.... I don't remember the name. The kids rode rides, ate cotton candy and it was all air conditioned which is a big deal in Vegas. I couldn't imagine walking around in an amusement park in that heat. I know, I know... it is a DRY heat.... but hot just the same.

In this particular indoor amusement park was a climbing wall. We stood and watched others climb the wall for a while and then looked down at Leslie (who was the only one old enough to climb out of the two) and said "Why don't you give it a try?" She first said no, then said yes, then said no, then said "OK, but I don't know if I can get to the top". "Oh honey, you don't have to get to the top, just have fun climbing" was our reply.

We stood in line and waited our turn. They put the harness on her which was really big and it took them nearly 10 minutes just to make it snug enough for her to use it. They explained to her the hand signals and what to do when she wanted to come down then off she went. She was so little and her legs and arms were shaking but dog gone it she was gonna make it to the top. Once I saw her climbing and climbing and getting higher and higher I started to second guess our suggestion for this wall.

Long story short, she made it all the way to the top and rang the bell. The instructor said not many children her age (6) make it up that far. She came back down with a smile on her face and was so proud. We were amazed and proud as well, but happy to see her with both feet on the ground again.

Several years had passed when our sweet neighbors, who live behind us, asked if they could take the kids to the mall for lunch. They are an older couple who don't have kids of their own and they adore our two children. I said yes and the kids headed out the door for the afternoon.

They arrived back home, after spending the afternoon with our neighbors, and all were excited to tell us about Leslie's adventure. Apparently there was a climbing wall in the middle of the mall and Leslie was drawn to it. Our neighbors paid for her to climb and were amazed at her skill and ability. They purchased a picture for her to remember their time together.

Fast forward several more years and this is where we are today......

Leslie is now a member of Urban Krag, a wall climbing facility in Dayton. It is a converted 140 year old church with 8000 square feet of climbable walls. She is climbing certified, climbing advanced walls and owns her own climbing powder. I have heard her say she can't wait to climb REAL rocks and cliffs. What? That was NOT the deal when we suggested she climb a wall when she was six in Vegas.

She also wants to sky dive... who is this child and where is her mother? I am petrified of heights and can barely survive a plane ride where the doors remain closed and I am buckled in. Her father is a dare devil more that I, but he wouldn't voluntarily jump out of an airplane either.

Parents have to give permission to sky dive for students under the age of 18, which we will not do, so she said on her 18th birthday she is going sky diving with her grandfather (my dad, who has had a gift certificate to sky dive for years now and has not cashed it in). Lord help us.

I personally hope this is just a phase. How can a child who is quiet, and reserved and so serious at times her parents have to tell her to lighten up want to live life on the edge?

Greg has been to Urban Krag with Leslie, I have not. I did get certified at our local Rec Center to climb their wall. From what I have heard it is not the same, but it is a start for me.

After climbing this wall to receive my certification I noticed similarities between rock climbing and my christian walk.

First, I always need to keep my eyes looking upward, never look down. I looked down once to see if my foot could reach a certain nub on the wall and so wished I hadn't. Same goes with my walk with God. When I am facing trials in my life I need to stay focused and keep looking to Him, when I look down or back I only stumble or get weak.

Secondly, each step I take I need to make sure it is a steady move. Will I have the strength to hold on to that tiny nub? If I reach my hand up to grab that nub will my feet find a place to grab too? So many times in my life I have reacted before thinking about the consequences. Is this a good move for me? Is it glorifying to God? Once I make this move do I have the strength to endure where I am?

Thirdly, with each step I take I need to take it with confidence and strength. When you are climbing a wall, and you are nearing the top, many times the little nubs (that is what I call them) get smaller and further apart. You can't "kinda" make a move when you are in this situation. You have to leap with confidence and make it happen. You have to decide which direction to go in, or which path to take and then once that has been decided you need to move. Otherwise you will hang there, start to look down, get nervous and eventually get so weak you will fall.

I struggle with this in my life. I lack confidence and I second guess myself a lot. I need to remember that I am a child of God and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phillipians 4:13. I need to put my best foot forward and stop panicking about all the "what ifs". If I continue to get nervous over each move in my life I will either A. become weak and fall or B. never move and just hang there becoming stagnant in my never changing life. I really don't want either.

When the climb got hard and I felt as if I could fall I reminded myself of 3 things...... 1.I was wearing a safety harness, 2.I had a person belaying me who is trained and wouldn't let me drop to my death and 3. I had a soft mat below me. I didn't want to fall, and you better believe I was doing my best NOT to fall, but if I did I wouldn't die.

I need to also remember when things are hard and scary in life that I have a safety harness in my Heavenly Father. He is there to catch me, brush me off and get me back on track again. He won't let me fall to my death. He has already shown me through the death of His son that he loves me enough to give me eternal life with Him in heaven.

I was asked to go climbing by a friend of mine who is calling the month of September The Month of Firsts. She was recently divorced and this month is all about finding who she is and what she wants out of life. I actually went to support her because I am proud of the steps she is taking, but I had fun and am glad I went. Next time shouldn't be as scary right?

So, back to the Proverb in the beginning. I believe wholeheartedly in this verse. Many of our decisions in life have been based on this verse. We have made choices as parents to shelter our kids from certain elements of this world. As they get older they are exposed to these elements and are faced with making choices for themselves. If these elements had been introduced at a young age, or if these elements had been a part of our lives and in our homes then we might have run the chance of our children not making the wise choice now.

Little eyes are always watching. They watch how you treat an elderly person at the grocery store. They watch how you handle a person cutting you off on the road. They watch when you help a neighbor in need. They watch how you speak to your spouse and your friends.

It amazes me how much our actions have molded our children into being the person they are today. If I am nervous or unsure of something then they are nervous and unsure of the same thing (except rock climbing apparently). If I have an opinion about something and share it openly with our kids they tend to have the same opinion. Some of it is good, some of it is not so good. We are not perfect obviously.

I see them doing and saying things every day that we did not teach them. Again, most of it good, but not all of it. Attitudes need adjusted at times, selfishness needs curbed, thoughtfulness has to be encouraged. I need to turn to my Heavenly Father for the same reason. I know my attitude still needs adjusted, my selfishness still needs curbed, and I need to be more thoughtful and grateful at times.

So, back to the original thought of this post.... be careful what you suggest or what you expose your children to at an early age because it could and very well come back to bite you.

Soon our children will have to stand on their own two feet and choose which path they will take in life. My prayer is this verse will then be alive in our children. They will remember the path they were guided down early in life and will continue to follow that path.

I have a job interview today and it is my first interview in 16 years. This interview will be a much harder wall to climb for me. Climbing upward with my eyes up, my safety harness on, and leaping with faith and confidence.... bring it on! :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Customer service at its best....

Greg and I went shopping for patio furniture this past weekend; now is the time to buy due to all the clearance sales. Our first stop was Sams club. We didn't remember seeing patio furniture there in the past but had seen other outdoor items so we gave it a shot.

So glad we did. When you first walk in the door of Sams (at least in the door of the one near the Dayton Mall) you will find a huge wall of flat screen TV's. You can't help but look at them, they are right in your face as soon as you walk in.

As we were looking at all the TV's we notice the TV we purchased last December from Sam's was now $300.00 cheaper. A nice gentleman walked over to ask if there was anything he could do to help us, Greg spoke up and said "yes". He proceeded to ask the nice man about price adjustments.....now, before I go any further, I need to tell you when we purchased our TV last year in December we were told we could return our TV at anytime. We didn't really think much about it because we loved our new TV and unless something went wrong we wouldn't need to return it right?

Well, the nice man walked over to his manager, talked a few minutes, and then walked back over to us. He says... " The price adjustment depends on which manager you get when you come in, however you are welcome to return your TV and purchase a new one at the discounted price. You can return up to 2 years without a receipt, and indefinitely with a receipt".

Greg and I stood there looking at one another in disbelief. Did this man just tell us we could return our 9 month old TV with no questions asked and then purchase a new one at a lower price? Yep, that is exactly what he said.

After the gentleman walked away we started looking at all the other TV's. I mean if we were going to return the TV we should check out all our options. We found a 55 inch TV (ours was a 52 inch) with better specs for 300.00 less than what we paid for our original TV in December.

We still thought this was too good to be true so we drove home, researched the other TV online, and called Sams to speak to a manager personally. Greg reiterated the conversation he had with the nice man a few minutes ago to the manager, she confirmed the policy and told us to bring our TV down and she would be there to work with us. UNBELIEVABLE!

So, we loaded up our TV (no box) with cord and remote, drove down to Sams, unloaded it onto a cart and wheeled it in. They returned every penny we spent in December with only asking one question. "Is there anything wrong with this TV?" We said "No, just wanted a bigger better quality TV." We were honest. They said "Ok, thank you... sign here."

We turned around and purchased a larger, better TV and walked out with an extra 300.00 in our pockets.

We then took that extra 300.00 and purchased new, discounted patio furniture and still had 120.00 in our pockets. It was a good day at the Jergens house. :)

Moral of the story.... if you EVER are thinking of purchasing a TV.... buy it at Sams. We may do this again next year if something bigger and better comes along. Hold on to those receipts my friends!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of School 2009

Well, it is official, we now have a freshman AND a senior living amongst us. I didn't think the first day of school would affect me this year..... but it did.

First of all, Leslie doesn't need me to drive her to school anymore, Anthony drives her. This was the first year of school where I didn't take her.

Secondly, it hurt more than I thought it would watching my baby walk into the high school for his first day. High School! I think we should have thought a little harder about having a third child. But, then I would feel the same way when that child walked into the high school too. Something about reaching the "last stop" before college and knowing how quickly those 4 years will go is what it getting me.

Regardless, I am so thankful our children are healthy, strong and continue to grow academically. As hard as it is to watch them grow up so quickly, I wouldn't want it any other way.

My good friend Linda (you guys are probably sick of hearing me talk about "my good friend Linda", but she is full of great advice so I take it) (smile).... she once told me she has her kids put up fingers for each grade they are in for their first day of school pictures. I thought that was a GREAT idea and there is no doubt down through the years what grade her kids are starting in each picture.

Soooooooo, my kids have done this for years now thanks to Linda. I didn't start it until Les was in 4th grade so my pictures are not uniform as I would like, but better 4th grade on up than nothing.

Here are some first day pictures from this year....

Leslie has a great schedule for her senior year. Here is how she spends her day.... Faculty assistant, Poetry, Pottery, Creative Cooking, Environmental Literature and her block class Environmental Management. I asked her if she needed any book covers and she replies "No mom, I don't have any books this year." Currently she is learning how to make Smoothies in her Creative Cooking class..... kinda redundant since she has worked at Tropical Smoothie for a year now. She will make the world's best smoothie by the time she goes to college. Important stuff! :)

Nick walked through the door after his first day with THE biggest smile on his face. He loves high school and better yet he loves his teachers. It doesn't get any better than this for a parent. He had his schedule memorized by the second day and knows the high school like the back of his hand. He is taking great notes in class and is on the ball......YAY!

All is good in the Jergens home, we are back into a routine which is always nice and it is a routine everyone is happy with. Ahhh, the sound of contentment is in the air, let's pray it lasts!

Hope your first day back was as good as ours.