Friday, May 30, 2014

Hannah and the Chocolate Factory!

On our final day of fun in PA we hopped in the car and drove about 30 mins.  to visit the Hershey Chocolate Factory. IMG_3609 We really had no idea what to expect but wow…..we were all impressed!  We purchased the package that we felt would be fun for all 4 of us.  It included the Great Chocolate Mystery in 4D, Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour and , Create Your Own Candy Bar.

Our first event was the 4D movie.  It was very well done and reminded us of movies and their special effects at Disney.IMG_3611


When the movie was done it was our group’s turn to create our own candy bars.  What fun!!


After watching in introduction movie we went to video screens and designed our candy bars online.  We were able to choose the base chocolate, 3 fillings and weather or not we wanted sprinkles on our bar.IMG_3620

Next it was time to scan our cards again and then follow our candy bars as they travelled along the conveyer belt, dropping in our chosen ingredients.   Hannah chose a white chocolate base and Mommy, milk chocolate.

Time for a chocolate bath.

While the bars were cooling we each had an opportunity to design the cover for our candy bar.  After that we headed back to the end of the line to watch our bars come out and have them packaged.

Making our own candy bars was such a neat activity and we had such fun!!IMG_3634


Our final activity was the chocolate tour.  The design of the ride reminded us of the Figment ride at Epcot.  It was neat to see all the steps that go into creating chocolate bars.IMG_3638

If you’re ever in the Hershey or Lancaster, PA area be sure to take time to visit the Chocolate Factory!!

Almost 20 years ago I began babysitting for friends Deb and Scott.  I’m not really sure how the tradition began but somehow the tradition of Scott and I taking chocolate home for the other each time we travel began.  We’ve both teased that the family many not receive souvenirs from all of our trips but neither of us would ever think of arriving home without chocolate for the other.  Heh!  Here is Hannah sharing the giant bar we bought for Uncle Scott.IMG_3643

Hannah giving Uncle Scott his chocolate bar the following week at church.  And yes, more chocolate than we care to admit has been consumed in church while waiting for the service to start!!IMG_3655

It’s worth the drive to Hershey!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Visit to an Amish Village

Saturday morning after taking Nana to work, Hannah, Papa and I drove back to The Amish Village that we’d noticed the previous evening.  IMG_3598

We enjoyed a quiet morning there touring an Amish home, schoolhouse and more.  Our tour guide was a sweet Mennonite woman who had grown up Amish as a child.  IMG_3577

It was so interesting to learn much about the Amish lifestyle and their homes.  I was surprised to see a mixer similar to a Kitchen Aid in the kitchen.  She said that some families have gas generators to help with chores in the barn and families run air compressors from that and then power appliances such as mixers and fridges with air.  I thought that was neat!

When we left the home there was a barn with animals that could be fed.  Hannah was all over that.IMG_3579

One of the things we’d hoped to do this trip was take a ride with a horse and buggy.  This was as close as we got but it’s something fun to look forward to another visit.


One room schoolhouse.IMG_3589

Hannah looked so sweet sitting in this little desk.  They had some basic sentences on a paper on the desk and she was able to read them with a little help.  We are having such fun with her reading!IMG_3591

(The teacher at the schoolhouse gave us directions to quaint Amish bookstore called ‘Gordonville Books’.  We visited there after leaving here and I couldn’t believe how many wonderful books they had and such great prices too!  I purchased some pre-readers featuring ‘The Bobbsey Twins’ as well as a hard cover compilation of the ‘Dick and Jane’ stories I learned to read with many, many years ago!  Hannah is thoroughly enjoying them and we read them almost daily.)

Although we didn’t seen any of the infamous covered bridges that are scattered throughout the Lancaster area, we did walk through this little one at the village.IMG_3593

It was such a treat to learn more about the 30,000 Amish people that live in the Lancaster area.  After leaving the village we went our for a drive.  I know they don’t like people to take their picture so I respected that but I wish I’d caught a horse and buggy from that back after it passed by.  One thing we did see were these farm houses with huge lines of laundry drying in the wind.IMG_3599

My sweet little Amish girl!IMG_3575

If you have the opportunity to visit Lancaster, PA, please do!  It’s a picturesque area filled with beautiful people.  Hannah and I visited a farmer’s market in the afternoon and that was a neat experience too.

Lancaster – we’ll be visiting again for sure!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dancing Off Her Energy

The day we drove to PA we were in the car the majority of 9 hours.  After supper we did a bit of shopping and Hannah entertained me greatly in the change room! 

My little entertainer….

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sight & Sound Theatre, Lancaster, PA

Friday Nana worked half a day then we drove 2 hours further into PA to Lancaster.  Truly, this was our destination of choice this trip and we were not disappointed!!

The day we found out we were going to Lancaster we’d tried to get tickets for ‘Moses’ at the ‘Sight &  Sound Theatre’ but it was sold out.  Sharon continued to try often even though I’d given up on finding something.  She called me early last Saturday morning to say that the Friday night show had changed from ‘Sold Out’ to ‘Call Only.’  There was hope!  I called them at 8:30 on the Saturday morning expecting to find out the hours that their box office opened and was surprised to find out that the box office was already open and…they had 4 seats!  We were super excited even though truly we had no idea what to expect except that friends who had been there had raved about it!   I tell you, we were not disappointed!!  We arrived early so had an opportunity to take pictures without others around.IMG_3559

We picked up our tickets then shared supper of hot dogs and chips.   We just needed a little something before the show began and it hit the spot!IMG_3571

When we went into the theater we were wonderfully surprised that our seats were in the front section of the theater and even on an aisle!  They were perfect!  We were surrounded by bus tours so our guess is that a bus cancelled there reservation the week before the show as it opened up seats for ourselves and those around us.  IMG_3563

The theater is HUGE with a 300’ wrap-around stage and it seats more than 2,000 people at each performance.  The musical show was amazing and is performed up to 3 times a day!  Wow!  We loved being right on the aisle as live animals walked, jumped and ran right by us including sheep, goats, horses and even camels!!   A few parts were a little intense for Hannah but she’d hop into my lap at those moments and then she was okay as the story progressed.IMG_3561

When I think of the story of Moses I can’t help but think of the similarities of his beginnings and Hannah’s.  When I was praying about Hannah’s adoption I met with my pastor and he shared with me the story of Moses who was found and  raised by a single Mom.  That has never left me and places the story of Moses  in a special place in my heart.

If you’re ever in the Lancaster area I highly recommend going to see whatever show is playing in the Sight & Sound Theatre!!IMG_3568

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Long Weekend Getaway!

Nana was invited to travel to Pennsylvania for some music business.  She and Papa invited us to join them so I quickly said ‘yes!’  Well…truth be told, as soon as she found out she was going my response was, ‘Want company?’  This happened mid-march and our weekend has arrived.  I think I may have driven through bits of PA at different times but never had the opportunity to visit for an extended stay.

We were up early on Wednesday and on the road shortly after 6.  It was to be a 6+ hour drive without stops so we knew we wanted to start sooner than later.  Hannah is a great traveler yet this was to be her longest drive ever so I hoped she’d do well.  She told me she was going to pretend the car was an airplane because she likes to fly and has handled lots of long flights well.  She did great!  There were a few ‘are we almost there’ but all in all she handled it well. 

We like to eat at some of the restaurants we enjoy that we don’t have in Canada so supper was at Cracker Barrel.  IMG_3515

As we were preparing for this trip I was trying to figure out what to do for Hannah’s allergy to many detergents.  At Disney we can request special hypoallergenic sheets but this isn’t an option at most hotels.  I found this neat thing called a Sleep Sack at Bed, Bath and Beyond and it did the trick!  She was comfy and was fully protected from the sheets that cause her from having an allergic reaction like she did last summerPA5

Thursday we took Nana to work and then set off to ‘not have any fun’ without her.  I’m not sure we succeeded!  Winking smile  PA Park 1We were in State College, PA so started off at a Visitor’s Center to find out what we might do.  There’s not much to entertain a 5yo so we went with Plan B.  Park time followed by shopping.  That works!

So many ‘yellow flowers’ to pick and give to Mommy!IMG_3521

It’s so much greener here and oh so beautiful!  We were happy to be wearing our summer clothes again.IMG_3548


Hannah is a high flyer on the swings and always tries to get as high as she can.IMG_3532

This time she shocked me with her unexpected exit!

A final pose before we left the park.IMG_3541

We spent the afternoon shopping at Kohl’s and Target.  Hannah and I had time to go for a quick swim and then it was time to pick up Nana.  All our fun had tuckered out my little girl and she grabbed a nap in the car.PA7

Supper was at the Olive Garden and then back to our hotel for the night.   Sharing a special moment with Nana.IMG_3555


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Perfect Mother’s Day from Start to End!

Hannah woke me up Sunday morning with a sweet ‘Happy Mother’s Day!’

She ran downstairs and brought her card and gift back up to our room.  Check out this amazing envelope and card she decorated for me!!  After piano practice Saturday she spent quite a bit of time in the basement.  I had no idea there were so many stickers in my teaching box!!IMG_1063

My girlie, proud of her handiwork.  And so should she!IMG_1061

After church we went to Nana and Papa’s for lunch.  Hannah made these cute little lists for Grandma and Nana.IMG_3468

Happy Mother’s Day Nana!IMG_3487

At supper we met my parents for our annual Mother’s Day dinner.  There were just 4 of us this year but we had a wonderful time together!



Hannah and Grandpa both love cherries.   We enjoyed dessert at a local yogurt shop.  She teased him that she was going to share one….nope!IMG_3506

Hannah and I shared an absolutely amazing day together!  Oh how I love my girl and cannot thank God enough for allowing me to be the Mom of the most amazing little girl in the entire world!!!Mother's Day 2014


I love you Hannah XiaoFen!!!  xoxoxoIMG_3491

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Woot! Woot! Hannah is Reading!!!

A whole new world is opening up to my sweet girl as she has started reading over the past couple of weeks!  She’s done little bits in the past but for the very first time she can pick up books and read many of the words!  She is learning at school how to memorize sight words like: and, is, the, I, etc. but now she’s also learning how to sound out the other words and can actually read them!!!  It’s so cool to watch and listen too!!!

Little bits of this page are memorized (I think they read this book at school today and it’s one we were given at her kindergarten orientation last year) but much of it she is actually reading!

Last night after swimming lessons we stopped at the library and chose some new readers at her level.  She couldn’t wait to start reading them and I had to guide her back to the car as she was totally absorbed in one of her new books.  I love this!reading 1

reading 4

My baby is reading and I’m one proud Mama!!  Way to go Hannah XiaoFen!!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Easter Sunday 2014 Wrap-up

When we arrived home from church Sunday Hannah noticed her Easter treat had grown.  For a few years now she’s planted jelly beans the night before Easter and a special treat grows!IMG_3361

We then went inside to make Easter cards for the family.   Hannah was a little card making machine as she made 6 of these!IMG_3422


Sunday afternoon we shared Easter dinner with Nana, Papa and their family.  Auntie Japhia surprised Hannah with this adorable ‘Frozen’ apron.


The day ended with an amazing concert by Steve Green at our church.  What a blessing to worship with him!IMG_0947

Hannah and I shared a blessed, amazing weekend together!  We still had Monday to look forward to and shared that together and with one of her little friends from school.

We hope you had a great Easter weekend too!IMG_0959

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