Years ago my grandparents were in a fun local seniors band and that was their slogan. I've sort of adopted it as my life's theme. It's another way of saying something else I often repeat: "I want to live till I die."
Yesterday I wanted to do something special with the grandchildren, since there is only one more week until school starts. I knew I was on my own with three of them, and I was at a loss to come up with a plan for the day. We've done a lot of the usual already: the zoo, the local parks, hiking, swimming, the library, baking, crafts, a lemonade stand, the flea market, and playing in Grandma's park (our backyard).
Before they arrived yesterday morning, I did something I often do when I feel a lack of direction for the day ahead. I prayed. "Lord, I need you to order my day. I know for sure there are two things that you have promised to give for the asking: forgiveness and wisdom. I need both. Please give me an idea of something fun to do with the kids today."
It wasn't very long until I thought about taking them to Ohio's Amish country, located in Holmes County and a little more than an hour's drive away. It would get us out of town and into the beautiful countryside, and I thought they would love tasting the cheese at Heini's. But could I handle three of them on my own for such a venture? I'd never gone there by myself before, but I knew I kept a detailed map of Amish Country in my car. And I had Dora, my faithful GPS, plus a stroller. Confidence rose and I felt my prayer had been answered.
When I finally got everyone dressed, fed, and buckled tightly into their carseats, I pulled out of the garage and stopped. I announced to the kids that whenever grandma and papa go on a trip, we always say a prayer first. So I prayed out loud for a safe and fun day and gave thanks for the beautiful weather and our special time together. Simple and to the point. A teachable moment too.
There were many more teachable moments, especially once we got off the highway and onto the country roads. We took turns spotting grazing cows, baby goats, lots of horses, beautiful farms and rolling hills. We started counting how many horses and buggies we saw until they became a common scene. We looked for houses without any electrical lines attached to them, and we saw lots of clothes being dried outside in the breeze. I pointed out several small Amish school houses. We talked about some of the differences between the Amish and the Mennonites, who also populate the area. In answer to my granddaughter's question, I explained that even though it is called "Amish Country", that we were indeed still in the United States! We talked about the difference between being "in the country" and "in the city".
Our first stop was the Ashery Country Store. Located in Fredericksburg, Ashery's is a bulk food store I've enjoyed going to since my own kids were young. I was pleasantly surprised at how much the store has expanded and the grandkids loved that there were free samples throughout ~ candy, pretzels and dips, even sassafras tea. When I was looking for a certain item, I inquired to a woman I recognized had been there for probably 20 years! Even though the store had changed slightly, it really did seem like time had stood still here! People were so friendly too, stopping to chat and admire the grandchildren. There are some interesting facts at the Ashery website, found here.
Ten minutes farther down the road is Heini's, where cheese-making operations have been going on for 75 years. It takes a little time to walk around the store and sample every cheese they sell. And behind large glass windows we could see the workers cleaning out the huge vats where they had made cheese earlier in the day. We paused to watch part of a video which showed the process.
On her own, Elylah decided to keep a little scorecard of ranking her favorite cheeses!
Ethan: "Grandma look! Mouse cheese!"
Some unusual varieties included rainbow fudge cheese.
We left Heini's and drove a few more miles down the road to "downtown" Berlin. Main Street is full of tiny little primitive looking shops and I knew of a restaurant where we could get some lunch. I didn't try to take the kids inside any of the shops (I'm not THAT crazy!) but we enjoyed strolling up and down the street a little. I did take notice of lots of "new" shops that weren't there the last time I was in Berlin, and I'll go back to check them out another time when I can freely browse!
We waited about 15 minutes in line to go into Boyd's, a great sandwich shop in the heart of things. Again I was stunned to realize a waitress was someone I recognized from more than a decade ago. The place was just as busy as always, filled with visitors from all over. The kids wanted home made chicken noodle soup, and I had a half-order of a hot roast beef sandwich, my favorite when I go to Amish country. Apologizing for the mess we left, I gave the waitress a good tip. She chatted with me for a minute, and we were on our way.
The timing worked out perfectly and I drove the kids directly home. They slept the entire hour. I'm still glowing with memories of this perfect, gifted day. God is good. And I thank Him!
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given."