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Katie spends most of her free time writing, drawing, reading, and playing the occasional videogame. She absolutely adores language, and is majoring in English at OSU. Katie has a borderline obsession with sticky notes, as her desk is completely covered with them.

Flipped Switches and Some Reflection

It’s been a good half a year since I’ve been in high school, and it’s odd, but I’m almost an entirely different person.  It’s not like I’m too different personality-wise—nothing much has changed there.  It’s my habits.  And probably not in the way you think.   There’s this general assumption that freshmen in college go crazy, but I seem to have done just the opposite.

This is a small thing, but I started cleaning my room.  Almost obsessively.  It began in the middle of the summer.  I couldn’t bear the thought of all the junk from fifth grade stuffed under my bed, so I cleaned it out.  A few days later, I was tired of my closet looking like a warzone, so I cleaned that too.  You can walk in it now.  You can see floor.  It’s been months since I’ve cleaned it, and you can still see floor.  In fact, I cleaned my room this morning.  I’ve become so good at keeping it clean that cleaning it only takes a few minutes.

It seems like it’s something that anyone can and should do, but it still strikes me as weird.  Up until a few months ago, I was content to let my laundry pile up on my floor until my entire wardrobe was no longer in the closet.  I was perfectly fine leaving papers and things helter-skelter across the floor, and if you wanted to find something: good luck.  There were shoes that I lost for weeks at a time simply because I couldn’t sift through the mess to find them.

But here I am out of high school, and it’s like some switch flipped in my brain.  Like all of a sudden, I need to keep my room clean, and I don’t want to be in it if it isn’t.

And cleaning isn’t even the half of it.  Suddenly I find myself bothered that ninety percent of the shirts I own are camp shirts and show shirts, which aren’t necessarily very flattering.  This is mostly my fault.  I absolutely detest shopping for clothes for a multitude of reasons.  I have my taste, and it doesn’t really tend to change with the trends, so finding things I like is frustrating.  Additionally, finding things that fit (and fit well, for that matter) is nigh impossible.  And lastly, trying things on is too difficult.  Let’s be real: I’m lazy.  Shopping usually leaves me emotionally drained and wanting to sleep for five hundred years.

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Yet I stand in my newly cleaned closet looking at my small collection of clothing that are not camp shirts, and I find myself wishing I had money to shop.  I have to be careful not to wear the same thing twice in the same week, and I have to get creative with my layering.  It seems that college has made me take a little more pride in my appearance, at least on the days when I wake up late enough to have the motivation to look cute.  Early mornings I’m too tired to care, and I tend to make questionable decisions.  Like wearing green and black argyle socks.  At six thirty it sounds like a great idea, but by four in the afternoon I wonder if I got dressed in the dark.

I don’t know what to attribute all these changes to.  It seems to me that as soon as I got out of high school, something inside me clicked, a circuit lit up, and suddenly I’m making better decisions.  I don’t know if it’s just something about high school, or maybe it’s something about college.  Either way, I’m okay with it.  It’s been a pretty wild ride, in its own right, and I’m excited to see what happens next.

Thoughts from the Zoo Lights


 

The two wonderful young women I got to go to the Zoo Lights with: Mariah and Brittney.

The two wonderful young women I got to go to the Zoo Lights with: Mariah and Brittney.

I have a handful of memories that are from so long ago that they seem like they were only a dream.  One of them happens to be of my fourth birthday.  I remember blowing out the candles on my cake and silently making my wish: to see some Christmas lights.  I’m a December baby, so it wasn’t too ridiculous a thought.  It might have been that we planned on going to the Zoo Lights, but decided not to since the weather was too cold.  The thought of Christmas lights was somehow implanted on my small brain that evening, and that was the one thing I wanted.

After dinner, we shuffled out to our van and went for a drive.  The next thing I remember is driving past house after house, each decked out in what seemed like thousands of colored bulbs.  I sat gleefully in my car seat, bouncing my legs as I exclaimed, “My wish came true!”

As you can imagine, these were simply houses with strands of lights outlining their roofs and clothing their trees.  I can only imagine what four year old me would have done had she actually gone to the Zoo Lights.  I’ve recently had the joy and privilege of going to the Zoo Lights as a youth leader with Delaware Grace Brethren Church.

All small groups (or Bible studies) from the youth ministry planned to go and meet at the zoo. Two ladies from small group I help lead came: Mariah and Brittney.  I picked them up at the church, and then we headed down to the zoo for our fun filled evening.

 


 

The Zoo Lights are incredible. I don’t care if you’re eight or eighty, they’re still cool.  Seriously, almost every tree is covered in lights, there are some lights made to look like animals, and it’s practically a childhood fantasy.  As I walked along the paths with Mariah and Brittney, I had to take a moment and reset my mind back to that four-year-old mindset.  There’s a part of me—the whimsical childish part—that seemed to have all but died.  I had to mentally refocus to realize I was walking through something amazing, something novel.

A lot of laughs and a few meaningful conversations later, our tiny group joined a larger group of youth from the church, and we walked around the zoo, laughing and having a fantastic time.  We finished off the evening hanging out and warming up in the food court.  It was great to get out of the cold, but what was even better was being with friends and talking.  My favorite part had to be the part spent talking around the table, and the chats I had with Mariah and Brittney even while we were in the freezing cold.  The Zoo Lights shine brightly, and they’re fantastic, and we ought to appreciate them.  But just as each light shines, each person can hold a light inside them, bright and unique.  We only have to take time to see it, and to cherish it.
 


 

Christmas Fun in Central Ohio


Looking for something fun and Christmas-y to do in central Ohio?  Good news!  Here are four fun festivities that you can partake in this month!

The Central Ohio Symphony is performing at Gray Chapel this coming Sunday, the 14th at 2:00 and 4:30.  They’ll be featuring music from Disney’s Frozen.  It would be a fun family friendly time to hear some great holiday tunes. More information and ticket pricing be found here.

Marmon Valley Farm holds their annual Country Christmas event, where guests sit in a covered wagon and take a ride around the farm as actors depict the Christmas story.  This is something that I once did with my family, and it was a cool experience.  One of my favorite memories is of a Roman Centurion calling after the wagon, “Do your taxes!  Stay in school!”  It’s overall a fun thing to do with the family.

 


 

Tours begin at 6:30 pm on Fridays and 5:00 pm on Saturdays.  Tickets are $6 for children and $7 for anyone over 12 if they are bought in advance.  If they are not bought in advance, they’re two dollars more.  You can find more information and upcoming tour dates here.

The Living Christmas Tree concert at Grace Polaris is always one of my favorite things to do.  It usually takes the form of musical, telling the Christmas story along with the story of some modern characters.  The show is always top notch, and so much fun.  I have good memories from when I was a very small child of this show.  And it’s different every year, so it’s so much fun.

Their next shows are the 12th, 13th, and 14th, so if you’re interested, check out the ticket pricing and more information here!  Tickets are around 10 to 15 dollars.

The Ohio Theatre has several showings of the Nutcracker ballet.  Tickets are a bit pricier than the other events listed here, but I’m sure it would be worth it.  I can’t imagine this would be great for very small kids, but I know it’s something I would personally love to do.  Tchaikovsky has got to be one of my favorite classical composers, and I’ve seen several film adaptations of the story, but never the ballet.  I think it would be a worthwhile thing to go see.  You can find more information about upcoming shows and ticket pricing here.

 

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A Murder is Announced: The Inside Scoop on BV’s Upcoming Show

(photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

Friday and Saturday (November 14th and 15th) at 7:30 p.m. Buckeye Valley High School Thespian Troupe 6950 presents Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced.  I had the privilege of sitting in on a practice and talking to several participating in the show to get the inside scoop.

 

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A Murder is Announced is, as you might have guessed, a murder mystery, as are many of Agatha Christie’s novels.  If you’ve ever read Christie, you know she’s a clever writer, skilled at keeping you on your toes.  If you haven’t read Christie, here’s a great opportunity to have her work performed for you. The show is around two hours long.  I asked the cast and crew what age range this would be good for, and the general consensus is that it’s probably not good for small kids.  It’s not that there is inappropriate content, but that there are lots of subtleties that kids might struggle to pick up on.  It’s a show that I would love to see multiple times, just to understand how every line of dialogue fits into the big picture.

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The fact that Agatha Christie was a literary genius goes without saying. Couple a fantastic writer with great actors and you’ve got an engrossing story that you can barely rip your attention from.  I was only planning to stay at the practice to watch the first few scenes, but I lost track of time and suddenly I found myself an hour and a half into it.  I resolved to stay, but eventually I realized I hadn’t eaten for a long time and my little sister was alone at home, probably wondering where I was.  I was grieved to leave, and I would have stayed straight through to the end if I could have.  Now I get to wait an entire week in suspense.

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I asked several of the actors if it was different performing in a mystery than in another play (for example, Our Town by Thornton Wilder, which BVHS did last fall).  Joanna, crew member, said with a laugh, “It stops being mysterious.”  Even the cast had to do a lot of unwinding to understand the mystery.  “A lot of our practices ended sitting down and talking about why certain characters said certain things,” Pam Lyons, director, says, “The connections weren’t all laid out for us, like in Our Town.”

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It’s true, Our Town was very up front about the story.  Other plays are more along the lines of, “here it is!” but mysteries present an opportunity to think critically, and to make conjectures.

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“Little details matter more,” Wyatt (Inspector Craddock) explains, “Every word gives a piece of the story, so you have to learn your lines word for word.  And it’s really easy to mess up the entire show.”

“Like if you drop a name at the wrong time,” Michaela (Mitzi) chimes in.  “You could blow the entire story in a matter seconds.”

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I also asked several cast members why you should come to the show, and the resounding answer was, “Because you’ll never guess who the murderer is.”  The show is full of twists and turns.  “It’s fun,” says Nathan (Edmund Swetingham), “It keeps you guessing.”

“It’s not just a mystery,” Michaela explains, “There are funny parts too.  Hint, hint: me.”

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It’s a great night of entertainment, Mrs. Lyons told me, a good value, and a chance to see the talent.  “We’re excited to tell the story,” Sara, crew member states.

The students and adults that have collaborated on this production have worked very, very hard to produce it, and it shows.  A Murder Announced is a must see.  Shows are Friday, November 14th and Saturday November 15th starting at 7:30pm, and doors open at 7:00pm.  You can find ticket prices and additional information here.

Jack-o-Lanterns

My uber stereotypical pumpkin set-up.

My uber stereotypical pumpkin set-up.

I recently sat down to carve my pumpkin for this fall season, and upon doing so, ran into a wall.  What should I carve?  The answer used to be so simple.  My earliest memories of pumpkin carving stem back to around 2000, when I was a small toddling terror and my family still lived in a tiny ranch house.  I remember sitting on the floor of the unconventionally small kitchen and helping my father pull out pumpkin “guts.”  When the “guts” were effectively removed, he took up a knife and asked me “Do you want triangle eyes, or square eyes?”  I told him which, and he cut them out.  For each facial feature he gave me a few options, and I selected which I wanted.

In recent years, it seems that pumpkin carving has become more of an art.  It’s more complicated now, and I wanted to do something more fun than just a face made of squares and triangles.  After much deliberation, I decided to go with a Lord of the Rings themed pumpkin, since I was inspired by some pumpkins with the One-Ring inscription carved into them.  I decided to be a bit more original and carve “Speak, friend, and enter” (the words inscribed on a door to the abandoned Dwarven Mines of Moria [yes, I’m aware I’m a nerd]) on my pumpkin.  I thought it would be particularly clever, as my pumpkin would sit by the door to our house.

I set to work, a bit nervous because the last time I tried to carve words into my pumpkin, I ruined the entire thing. It was an upsetting childhood experience, and I was determined not to repeat it.  I worked for a few good hours on my pumpkin, during which I marveled about the strangeness of this custom that I’ve participated in for almost as long as I can remember.  You take this huge vegetable, cut whole, hollow it out, and then carve something into its front and stick a candle in it.  Why?

I messed up the "P".  I was terrified I would continue the trend, but otherwise  it was going pretty well.

I messed up the “P”. I was terrified I would continue the trend, but otherwise it was going pretty well.

If I had to guess, I would say jack-o-lanterns started as a way of warding off evil spirits.  I think it sounds fairly logical, but my guess wasn’t enough to satisfy me, and so I went on a small quest to find the history of jack-o-lanterns.

It turns out that practically all Halloween customs had their origins in Celtic tradition, likely brought over to the Americas during the Irish potato famine (Bannatyne 78; Santino).  Before coming to America, they used vegetables such as turnips to make lanterns by which they would simply find their way at night, or partake in the festivities of Halloween (Bannatyne 78).  What is most humorous is that when the Irish came to the bountiful New World and found the native pumpkin, they saw opportunity for a larger canvas than they had previously (Bannatyne 78).

All done and ready to light!

All done and ready to light!

The story behind the jack-o-lantern?  There quite a few myths, Celtic and otherwise, as to its invention.  The most common is about a man named Jack.  In the myth, Jack tricks the devil into agreeing to not “come for him” for ten years (Bannatyne 78).  Jack died before this time was up, and was not allowed to go to either heaven or hell, as the devil apparently intended to keep his promise, and didn’t like Jack for fooling him in the first place (Bannatyne 78).  Jack was left to wander the earth with a vegetable lantern (Bannatyne 78).  Poor Jack.

If you research much more than this you’ll soon find yourself knee deep in literature on Celtic paganism, and it gets increasingly weird.  So I stopped here, having been fully satisfied knowing they just had a habit of making lanterns out of vegetables, came over to the New World, and found the pumpkin: the holy grail of large vegetables.  I can just imagine the new comers saying, “America?  The Land of Opportunity?  I should think so! Have you seen the size of their vegetables?  Now that’s some opportunity!”

Note to self: Squish the words in more  so you can actually see all them.

Note to self: Squish the words in more so you can actually see all them.

We continue to take that opportunity to this day, carving new and interesting things onto our pumpkins.  It’s an art form that we have advanced and some have perfected.  As for me, I think I have a ways to go.

Happy fall, everyone!

 


 

Works Cited

Bannatyne, Lesley. “The Immigration Years.” Halloween: An American Holiday, an American

History. New York: Facts on File, 1990. 78. Print.

Santino, Jack. “The Fantasy and Folklore of Halloween.” About. Sept. 1982. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.

 

 

Adventures in Facepainting

This past week, Delaware Grace Brethren Church hosted its annual Fall JAMfest in the church’s backyard.  The event features inflatables for kids to play on, free food (yum!), cookie decorating, Trunk or treat, and face painting.

I’ve volunteered as a face painter at Fall JAMfest for several years now, and I’ve got quite a few fond memories from the event.  A few years ago, I sat at the face painting table chatting with the other young lady who was volunteering, and a couple bald gentlemen approached us.  They asked if we could paint spiders on their heads, and so we did.  I have to say, it was probably one of the strangest things I’ve ever done, but it sure was hilarious.  The best thing was to watch the guys run away laughing at each other, and showing their friends and kids the spiders painted on their heads.  Another time, a young boy dressed as a baseball player asked me to paint a bat on his cheek.  I thought he meant a baseball bat.  It wasn’t until the following morning that it hit me that he probably meant the creature that sleeps upside down and lives in caves.

With these experiences in mind, I drove out to the church with my little sister (AKA Batman) in tow.  Then I sat down at the face painting table for a good three hours.  Kids are funny.  Most of them will sit down across from me and stare at me, without a single inkling of an idea of what they want on their face.  I then have to search my mind for ideas, which usually end up being something along the lines of, “Butterfly, heart, pumpkin, bat, spider…” Eventually I trail off, and hope that was good enough.  It’s great when the kids know what they want, though.  One cute little red head plopped down and announced, “I want a kitty nose and whiskers, and then one butterfly on each cheek.”  Probably one of the more interesting ones I got was, “Give me a blue mustache and goatee.”  I also enjoyed joking with one of the pastors that the Steeler’s logo on his cheek would definitely look better with glitter.  Because everything is better with glitter.  You want a butterfly? Glitter.  Spider?  Glitter.  Cat? Of course you need some glitter!

As I painted a snowflake on a small Elsa’s face, I heart her parent remark, “These people must be so patient.  I could never do this.”  Which got me to thinking about it.  Like I said, I’ve done face painting for JAMfest for about five years now, and it never seemed like something that was very difficult.  Sure, I’ve butchered several butterflies and Batman symbols, and I’ve tried to paint ponies when I just can’t.  When I thought about it, the hardest thing wasn’t the art itself.  You don’t need a lot of artistic talent to paint a pumpkin or a butterfly on a kid’s face.  The hardest thing is having a steady hand, and the patience to go slowly because the child’s a moving, living, breathing canvas.  But I feel like it’s something anyone could do.  How much you enjoyed it would be another question.  I can easily understand how the time could drag by for some.  For me, those three hours always fly by, and it’s six pm before I know it. It’s a rewarding thing to do.  When I’m done painting a child’s face so he looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and he’s so excited, it’s worth it.

By five thirty, all the kids were lining up for Trunk or Treat, and it was time for us to clean up the face painting table.  Glancing over at the lines of kids, I couldn’t help but notice how adorable they were, all lined up and excited to get some candy.  There’s just something joyous and young in the atmosphere.  Everything’s all right, the world is full of wonder, and hope.  Through  the eyes of a child the world is a wondrous and fantastic place.

DGBC hosts JAMfest every October, and I speak from experience when I say it’s a great free and fun event to go to.  Definitely check it out next year!

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The Maze Runner Film Review

Fast paced, gut wrenching teen dystopian science fiction, The Maze Runner, directed by Wes Ball and adapted from the book by James Dashner, was a pretty darn good movie.  With incredible scenery, terrifying creatures, and interesting characters, this movie will most likely keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Maze Runner begins suddenly, like jumping into a pool of ice water.  It yanks you right in as hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakens in an elevator.  When the doors open, he finds himself in the Glade, among many other boys who are all trapped there, including Newt (Thomas Sangster), Alby (Aml Ameen), Minho (Ki-Hong Lee), among several others.  Surrounding the Glade is the daunting Maze, filled with the perilous Grievers—terrifying monsters that are part creature part robot.  The film follows the Gladers as they try desperately to find a way out of the ominous Maze.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was the acting.  Generally, there was great portrayal of character.  Even when the actors didn’t say anything, their faces spoke volumes.  I remember watching characters in the background who were so expressive I found myself mentally writing in dialogue.  The combination of good writing and acting made it more enjoyable.

The plot drives this story well.  It’s fast paced and pressing, constantly moving the story forward, and drawing the audience in.  I think the only downside to this is that we don’t get as much character development on the more minor characters.  Chuck (Blake Cooper) is not developed as much as he was in the book and is therefore less sympathetic.  I was also disappointed that Theresa’s (Kaya Scodelario) character wasn’t as developed, and kind of thrown in at the end.  As a result, her character seemed blank to me.

As far as book adaptations go, The Maze Runner does a fantastic job.  The Maze itself literally looks just like the cover of the book, so it will not disappoint.  The movie keeps the main idea and plot, while skipping through and changing some smaller things so the story can plausibly fit into a two hour film.  The biggest differences are toward the end.  There were a few things they left out that I was glad they did.  For example, Theresa’s telepathic connection with Thomas came off as cheesy to me in the books, and in this film it was omitted.  I confess that it has been a few years since I read the book, and the film adaptation might be more vexing if you’ve just poured over each page, memorizing every plot point and line of dialogue.

The Maze Runner is definitely geared more toward young adults, but I think adults would enjoy it too.  There’s no real romantic subplot, and it lacks that trope of the dystopian genre, so it’s not super cheesy in that regard.  This is not a movie for little ones, as it is action packed, intense, and the Grievers would be pretty terrifying.  Additionally, there’s a smattering of mild swear words, some general violence and intense scenes.

This story is a great story.  It is fun, it’s interesting, it’s driven, and it’s different.  There are some great characters, wonderful acting, and the sets were phenomenal.  Even though it differs from the book, the movie is a pretty accurate portrayal of the plot.  I look forward to next year when the sequel, The Scorch Trials, comes to theaters.

Stars

 

Some stars as seen from my backyard (photo Ashleigh Longtine)

Some stars as seen from my backyard (photo Ashleigh Longtine)

It was very clear one night last week, and so I decided to go outside and look at the stars.  No matter how many times I’ve seen them, looking up at the stars makes me feel like a child again—small, and full of awe and wonder.  We used to have a telescope that we would look through and see the planets, and sometimes, if we were lucky, galaxies.  I enjoyed those nights, and while I had no telescope last week, I decided to head outside anyway and just look up.
 

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I went out around at around ten forty, shutting off all the lights around the house.  I had my heart set on finding the constellations that are currently visible in our night sky, and writing about them.  I even downloaded Stellarium to my laptop in the hopes that it would make finding the constellations easier.  But between Marysville to the west, Delaware to the east, and Columbus in the south, each lighting up the horizon with an ambient glow, it was difficult to see stars that weren’t as bright.  I was determined to not let that bother me, and kept trying to find the constellations when I realized that I had another problem.  I was familiar with the summer sky, and this was the autumn sky.  The constellations were all in different places.

Still determined to find something in the sky, I sought out the few constellations I knew.  I found Cassiopeia first, and then Ursa Major (the big dipper) and Ursa Minor (the little dipper).  I thought I saw Orion, but I wasn’t sure.

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This was another good shot my sister got of the stars. (Photo Ashleigh Longtine)

The big dipper, the tail of Ursa Major, or the big bear, was always the easiest thing for me to find in the sky since I was a kid.  And as I looked up at it, I remembered the Greek mythology behind it that I learned a few semesters ago.  Her name is Callisto.  She used to be a human in goddess of the hunt Artemis’ fan club.  Artemis had set up a few rules about being a member of the club, and Zeus tricked Callisto into breaking one of those rules.  So Artemis turned Callisto into a bear.  Now Callisto had a son, Arcas, who grew to become a king and hunter.  He went hunting one day and saw a bear, and decided to kill it.

Now of course this happened to be his mother, Callisto, but he didn’t know any better.  Zeus, seeing the problem, couldn’t just let Arcas kill his mother, since it was his fault Callisto was a bear anyway.  So Zeus turned Arcas into a smaller bear—Ursa Minor—and put them both among the stars.

None of it is true, but it’s an interesting story.  And each constellation carries a different one, told years upon years ago.  For some reason, we remember stories for a long time.  They cross generational divides and become a sort of collective knowledge.  And here, the stars, infinite in size and number, are infinite in yet another dimension.  Within the constellations, stars hold the stories that we put there.

With school starting back up and the general pressures of life, I’ll confess, I’ve been pretty stressed out.  But looking out at the universe, the stars and planets, was calming.  It doesn’t get too chilly at night yet, so I’d suggest you go out and check out those stars sometime soon.  Maybe take the kids out and look for constellations, or make your own and put your own stories inside of them.

 

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The Story Behind Leeds Farm

Owner Christy Leeds tells me about the farm.  (Photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

Owner Christy Leeds tells me about the farm. (Photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

Autumn is coming, which means it’s almost time for colorful falling leaves, apple cider, and pumpkins.  It also means it’s almost time for Leeds Farm to open to the public.  Located on Route 36 near Ostrander, Leeds offers fun activities for the family for affordable prices (pricing info here).  My family has made wonderful, fun memories there, but I never knew much about the farm itself, so I spoke with owner Christy Leeds to learn more.

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View of the activities from atop the mountain slides. The farm looks so different when it’s busy! (photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

Christy and Rob Leeds first started growing pumpkins on Rob’s farm when they married.  In 1994, they decided to open to sell pumpkins, so they bought their property on Route 36 and started a business.  Over time, people began asking if they could go in the barn and see the animals, so the Leeds started adding new activities.  Twenty years later, they feature a variety of activities, from the exciting big zip to the combine slide—the only of its kind in the Midwest.

(photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

(photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

Leeds Farm offers a chance for kids to be active, Christy says.  They purposefully choose active adventure activities to engage the kids.  With activities as creative as the combine slide and tube time, I had to wonder how they thought of them!  Christy told me they attend an annual conference, which consists mostly of people with farms much like Leeds.  The community shares ideas which can be adapted to fit other farms.

This is the combine slide from the side (photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

This is the combine slide from the side (photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

Combine slide from the front. (Photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

Combine slide from the front. (Photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

On an average working day, employees come in early to get the farm ready.   Doors open at ten, and then until five there are lots of people.  There are chores, and the animals have to be cared for throughout the day, but a break is taken to feed the staff.  At five they close, and then they reopen from 6:00 to 8:30 for a private party that has rented out the farm.  There’s a bonfire for the party, and then the farm closes, the staff cleans up, and heads home.  In the spring, the farm will host events as a venue (like weddings), and in October they open for school tours.

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These adorable piglets were forty-eight hours old when this photo was taken! (photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

During school tours, they love to educate the kids about agriculture.  One of the reasons the Leeds started the farm was their interest in helping people understand agriculture and desire to provide people with a closer view of it.  Christy says she wishes they had more time for discussions about agriculture. However, people come to the farm to have fun with their families, so it’s difficult to strike a balance between educating them and having fun.  One of the things they’ve tried to do for the kids is design activities that help them learn about agriculture.  For example, a lot of kids have never seen and held field corn.  At Leeds Farm, there are corn boxes—like sandboxes except filled with corn—for the kids to play in!

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(photo Katie Longtine delawareo.com)

Christy says she loves the farm because it is what her family does together, even their extended family.  She’s thankful that the guests realize a lot of work goes into transforming the farm into a public space, and she’s thankful for their respect.  Leeds will be open to the public for six weekends, starting September 20 and ending October 26.  October 2 they’ll be hosting Witch’s Night Out, a girl’s night out event.  All of the ticket sales go to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides against Breast Cancer.  You can find more information about all their farm fun and special events on their website.  If you’ve never been, take your family for an afternoon of fall fun and memories you won’t forget!

“It’s my senior year, and I have no clue what I’m doing!”

You’ve made it; you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  You probably remember being in kindergarten and thinking you’d never make it out, but here you are.  It’s your senior year.  And now you find yourself faced with a question you never thought you’d have to answer: What happens next?

When you used to have to choose which class to schedule, suddenly you have to choose which school to attend.  It’s like you’ve been upgraded from the kiddie menu to the adult menu, and there are so many choices that it’s just overwhelming.  Except life isn’t like a restaurant, where you can take all the time you need to order.

Maybe you’re reading this and identifying completely with what I’m saying, or maybe you’re reading this not because it’s your senior year, but your child’s.  I’ve learned some things from my senior year that I thought might be worthy of sharing, or at least reminding people.  I am by no means a professional or very wise in any capacity, but these are a few things that are good to keep in mind if you’re planning to go to college the next year.

 

You have an entire year to figure out your next step.  Calm down.  Panicking never solved any problem.  All right, you don’t know what you’re doing, or where you’re going to school next year.  And this is your last year, but it’s still an entire year.  A lot can happen in that time.  What you need to do is focus on breaking the task down into smaller chunks.  What schools are you interested in?  Apply there.  Don’t know your major?  You can always apply as “undecided.”

But then explore.  Yes, stay calm, you have an entire year.  But don’t squander it!  Take advantage of it.  Your senior year is your playground to learn about yourself and what you want to do.  Come up with a list of majors that interest you and then try things in that field so you can get a feel for whether or not you actually want to major in that subject.

For example, I remember thinking I might want to be a chemist right up until I took chemistry.  Turns out I find the basics interesting, but once you get into stoichiometry and in depth titrations I feel like poking my eyes out.  Then I thought about being a lawyer.  I took government my junior year and I pitched that idea.  It wasn’t until I took some college English courses analyzing fiction my senior year that I really decided I wanted to go into English.  Find the major that excites you, and then go for it.  If you applied as “undecided” to your school of choice, you can always change it.

You’re still not going to know what you want to do.  Odds are that even after all your exploration, you still won’t be one hundred percent sure of your findings.  Most people switch majors.  Take me for example.  I’m not planning to switch my major at the moment.  I know I love writing, I love language, and I love English.  But then I’d get a score back from a math test I took in the spring and second guess myself.  I could go into engineering if I wanted to.  Or I could do some sort of communications.  That way I could use both my technology skills and my language skills.  Or alternatively, I could be a software engineer—that’s almost language.  It’s just programming language.  But then I remember my initial dream since I was in about second grade: to be a graphic designer.

See what I mean?  No matter what you do, you’ll have doubts.  Don’t worry about it—that’s normal.  In the coming years, you’re going to learn things about yourself that you never knew.  (E.g. I would have never guessed a few years ago that reading a powerfully written sentence would make me giddy with excitement.)

Do apply for scholarships.  I’ll be honest; I’m terrible about doing this.  Sometimes I tell my mom that I feel like I have about the same chances of winning a scholarship as I would winning the lottery.  But the truth is you have a better chance of winning a scholarship if you actually apply.  I know what you’re thinking, “Ew, more essays?”  Yes, but they’re essays that can win you money that pay for tuition.  Even if it’s two hundred dollars, it’s two hundred you don’t have to pay.  Some scholarships operate like a lottery—you don’t even have to write an essay, you just enter into a drawing.  For some you can take pictures, or draw or even make a video.  There are all sorts of scholarships out there, you just have to dig.   There are even some sites that will compile a list of scholarships you might be eligible for.  I tend to use fastweb.com and cappex.com.

Another quick scholarship tip—keep your essays saved together in a file.  Sometimes you can recycle an essay for another scholarship contest.  Just brush it up a bit, adjust the length so it’s appropriate for the contest, and then submit!  I know scholarships seem like a lot of work, but trust me, you’ll thank yourself when you’re paying what’s left of your tuition your freshman year of college.

“But I don’t want to do anything! I have Senioritis!” Stop.  “Senioritis,” otherwise known as spring fever on steroids, is a real thing and slows you down.  It’s really tempting to just sit back in your classes and let your grades slip a little bit.  You cannot turn your brain off.  Think about it, you’ve been carrying your torch for almost thirteen years now.  Don’t drop it right before you get to the finish line.  Finish with a bang.

 

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a week or two now, and my main point came to me very clearly when I went on a bike ride with my dad one morning.  The road by our house has a giant hill, and it’s just terrible coming back from a bike ride because it feels like the hill is never going to end.  There’s a smaller hill that you ride down just before you have to tackle the big one.

Now if you just coast down the small hill, you have to work pretty hard to get up the big one, and it’s excruciating.  But if you kick your bike into high gear, peddle like a madman, and build your momentum as you go down the small hill, you can coast right up the big hill with little to no problem.

Your senior year is like the small hill.  It seems fun at the time to just coast down the hill and not work very hard.  But there’s a big hill coming, and if you haven’t built enough momentum you’re going to find yourself huffing and puffing to make it up.  But if you do the work as you go, a little at a time, you’ll smooth out that transition, and it won’t be as difficult.