The Amish Meet Caleb

  Family Road Trip Day 1
Lancaster, PA
  Alan and I really wanted to give the boys a taste of vacation fun, while doing something that is not just fun for them (like a theme Park), but also fun for us.   Alan knew that after reading one too many Wanda Brundstetter novels, I was longing to visit Lancaster and get a peek at those Amish folk.  We knew that any road trip/vacation we took needed to be short and little-kid-friendly.  We weren’t sure if it would go well, especially with John David.  Basically, we weren’t sure how much “vacation” our nerves could handle.
   We put zero expectations on an early morning departure.  That helped a lot.  I packed most of our stuff up the day before, and we managed to pull out of our driveway at 9:50am.  HOV lanes, here we come!
   The road trip was amazingly uneventful, minus a few short outbursts from Bobby (PTL for pacifiers), one potty training fail, and then there was Joshua in the back, “When are we going to be at Ditch Wonderland??”  “Dutch, Joshua, it’s Dutch Wonderland”  ….”Oh, right. So is this it?  Is this Ditch Wonderland?”  Dutch Wonderland is a theme park in Lancaster, primarily for young children.  Joshua was apparently picturing a wonderful land full of ditches.  : )
    One of the places that was recommended to us by our fabulous Facebook friends (What did we do before Facebook?) was the Plain and Fancy Restaurant.  Apparently their fried chicken was featured on “Man Vs. Food.”   By the way,  I can’t believe there is a show called Man Vs. Food.  Food isn’t to be fought;  it’s to be enjoyed, so why the “versus”?
     Alan, in a moment of sheer genius, called ahead to the place and made reservations, and we zoomed meandered past lines of people doing their “30 minute wait” with our double stroller and two rowdy boys, straight to a table for 6.  WAY. TO. GO, ALAN!!!!!
     Sure the food was good, but more importantly, there were no melt-downs, no picky-eater food strikes……and only one giant blow-out diaper, by our very own J.D., who in true form, saved that for us until we were eating our food.
    After we had our lunch, and John David had his lunch, in the van, we headed over to the buggy tours.  By the way, I got very good at feeding the baby in the van on this trip.
While waiting for our food to arrive, the boys got very creative.  This was Joshua’s proposal for a new video game.  In case you have trouble reading the picture, it says, “Long ago, Chima was ruled, and the rule was, Villains attack, but the Hero Hattor is in, and it is Joshua, Mater, Angrew, Xavier, and the Leg Mave 2  Sea of Monsters.”
Explanation:  Chima= fictional place in Lego books/movies/building sets
                       Angrew=  I used to think he just had trouble making the d sound in the middle of the word.  Turns out, he actually thinks Andrew’s name is Angrew.  Surprising.
                       Mater–I asked him if he means Mater from the Cars movies, and he assured me that that is indeed the Mater he is referring to.
While Joshua always draws very strange characters from video games or Lego stories, Caleb draws more traditional things, like the house above.  The red bubble downstairs is Caleb’s secret bubble where he can watch t.v. and play video games.  The red man to the right is Daniel, climbing on top of the van.  I am upstairs in the yellow chair, rocking J.D., and Joshua and Alan are the red figures in the attic.
 Dan, pulling Joshua over to the horses and buggies.  It was often Joshua’s job to hold Daniel’s hand.
 See the bearded man?  The married Amish men all have beards.  This picture and the next few that follow were all taken by Caleb.  If I had to choose the person who had the most over the top fun on this trip, it would definitely be Caleb.  This boy was on cloud nine for the duration of the two days.
Caleb took about 10 pictures just like this one.  He was fascinated with the horses.
 Daniel kept dancing and cackling at the horses.  I don’t have any idea what he thought he was doing, but it looked like he was teasing them.
In the above photo, on the far left top corner, you can see a small part of our driver’s face.  I never did ask what his name was.
   We had to wait a while, and I was rather disappointed when I first saw the great big wagons, because what I wanted to ride in was the small Amish buggies, like the Amish do.  Thankfully, Alan understood that and bought us tickets for a buggy ride and Amish farm tour.  That’s where things got…..interesting.
    Taking vacation with four children ages 7yrs. to 7 weeks is the opposite of relaxing, but on the farm tour it was actually our 2nd child that made the most waves.  First, as they were loading the buggy, the Amish men thought Joshua and Caleb would like to sit up front, with the driver.  They, of course, said “nooo nooo,” because they were scared.  Then the Amish men decided that I should ride up front, with Daniel in my lap and Caleb, who was trying to decide which to do, in the middle, and so this is how it ended up.  Caleb sat beside our Amish driver, and Dan and I sat on the other side of Caleb.  And from there on, Caleb and Amish man provided us all with entertainment for the next two hours.
    Caleb was just so excited.  He was all, “Look! (pointing)  Look at that!  Look at this!  Look, corn!  Look, cows!  Look horses!  What is that?  What is that?  Look!”  The Amish man quickly gave up the tour guide talk, which I had actually looked forward to hearing….The elderly couple riding in the back with Alan, J.D. and Joshua were probably wishing they’d picked a different buggy service.
     The Amish man and the elderly man kept joking and joking about making the boys pull the buggy back and letting the horse ride inside, which only served to scare Joshua and confuse Caleb.  But they thought they were pretty funny, and the Amish man just laughed and laughed.
    Of course, once we arrived to the farm, Joshua and Caleb flipped out because they were quickly greeted by two friendly dogs.  *sigh*  Well, the Amish man just couldn’t believe two little boys could be afraid of dogs like that, but then they weren’t afraid of the cows or anything else.
  He said, “What’s the matter with ya?  I don’t get it.  You’re afraid of some things, but you’re not afraid of anythin’ else?”  Caleb enjoyed the attention, and just kept asking more and more and more questions.
I loved hearing Caleb say, “This is just so exciting for me.  I’ve never been this close to a horse before.”
 three of my boys in the back of the buggy
 a parked Amish buggy
 me and my middle two, riding up front
 The very best thing about the trip was the beautiful scenery.  My favorite part was the time we spent just driving around and looking at all this.
 Every single house had its own silos and barns.
 one room schoolhouse
When we first arrived in Lancaster County, Joshua said, “Yeah, this is starting to look like the past.”  I had to explain to him later that this wasn’t about the past, but the Amish really still live like this as part of their religion.
I got so excited every time we would see this, and we saw a lot of this!
They don’t really like for you to take their picture, so we just snuck this one from the van….because I am that obnoxious tourist.
  I love the clean Amish way of life, and the beautiful scenery exceeded my expectations.  Amish country is way bigger than I thought.  I also became disillusioned with some things.  They don’t use electricity, but they do use gas, and I’m just not sure that they really “rough it” as much as I had imagined.  When we left the farm, our driver actually received a cell phone call from the buggy dispatcher, and I just cringed inside.  He was also rather flirty.  He seemed very impressed with my hair.  Apparently not too many Amish women have red hair.  So I must admit, I left a bit disappointed and quite disillusioned.  : /
   Now here’s one thing that is really great about vacationing with kids:  you could literally pack them all in the car, and say, “Hey kids, we’re going on vacation to a hotel.  Yes, it has a pool.” and they would be perfectly happy.  It’s all they need.  We went all out and got a really awesome suite, with two queen beds and a fold out couch in the living room area.  The boys claimed the fold-out right away.  (Haa!)  We’d brought a bassinet for the baby, and Alan slept with Daniel.  Do you know what that means?  Yep!  I slept by myself.  Hard to believe, isn’t it!?
Yes, Woody came on vacation with us.  I gotta say this for Caleb.  He takes care of his things.  That Woody has been all over the country with us, hat included, and he got it for his very 1st birthday.
  To wrap up Day 1, Alan took J, C, and D to the pool.  He came home more burned out than Santa Clause on the 26th of December.  Poor Alan.  All I had to do was feed the baby, unpack, and chill in the room!  Not a bad deal!
   Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about Day 2:  “Ditch Wonderland”
   Favorite Quotes from Day 1:
Dan:  “Pee!  Pee!”  …..literally right after they all walked out of the gas station bathroom, where he had already gone potty.  Alan unbuckled Dan, pulled off to the side, and Daniel proceeded to pee again,  a lot.  Note to us:  Cut back on road trip beverages for Daniel.
Caleb:  (referring to the farm smells)  I just love that stinky smell.
Caleb:  (as we passed a graveyard)  Hey, look!  Dying holes!