In case you didn’t know, it snows in Kentucky. This is our fifth winter since moving to Lexington, and sometimes it feels like we’re still in Pennsylvania. Some people laughed at us when we decided to bring our snowblower along to Kentucky, but it has been used all but maybe one out of the past five winters. The difference between Kentucky snow and Pennsylvania snow is that we usually don’t get quite the accumulation that PA does, and ours doesn’t stick around as long. Regardless, I’m happy that the kids have been able to enjoy some fun in the snow even though we live in the south.
School has been closed since Wednesday of last week, so we’ve had plenty of days to play outside. This was Rosie’s first snow, and though she wasn’t quite sure what to think of it at first, her curiosity got the best of her and within no time at all she was bunny hopping through the yard and playing like a little kid.
Lily was the first to ask to go out and play, but since Rydan was content underneath his warm covers, I bundled up with her and out we went.
After playing in the backyard for a bit, they tried out their new sleds on the hills behind the elementary school.
Our second round of snow arrived on Friday and dumped another 11 inches for us to enjoy. By that time, Rydan had already had his fill of it, so Lily and I ventured out while he stayed in the comfort and warmth of his bedroom.
On Sunday afternoon, we picked up Rydan’s friend, Carson, and drove to a nearby park for some sledding. This was so much fun, and something we had never done together as a family.
After all of that sledding, we are sleeping in this morning thanks to a two-hour school delay. Happy Monday, friends!
I know this post is overdue, but right after our Christmas in Kentucky, we packed up the car and drove 586 miles to visit our family in Pennsylvania. It’s hard to believe this was the fourth Christmas road trip we’ve made since living in Kentucky. Those miles certainly don’t get any shorter with each trip we make, and this year we took our three month old puppy, Rosie, along with us, which made things even more interesting.
We left at 3:45am on the 26th and arrived at Nana and Pappy Buff’s at 12:45pm. The festivities and family visits began pretty much immediately with a gift exchange that evening with Nana, Pappy, Uncle Brad, Aunt Jill and Bryar.
After opening gifts, we had a great time with the Pie Face game.
On Sunday we ventured to Klingerstown for a second gift exchange with my mom’s side of the family. Lily especially looks forward to this visit because cousin Kip has historically gifted her with an oversized zoo animal for the past three years, so she’s been anticipating what he could possibly come up with for this year.
On Monday, it was a third exchange with Ryan’s extended family back at Nana and Pappy’s. There were lots of little ones running around, lots of laughter taking place, and lots of memories being made.
For me, a big highlight of the entire PA visit took place that afternoon. It was the time I got to spend with my mom, gram, pap and great-aunt Polly. Polly has been staying with my gram and pap while she recovers from her hip surgery. She uses a walker, needs help getting around, and doesn’t leave her chair much, but her mind is still very sharp. Nothing makes her happier than being surrounded by the ones she loves. She even told me that she’s had “the best week of her life” staying with my gram and pap. After complaining a bit about having to make the long trip to PA, I needed to hear that from her. At 90 years old, Polly has a lifetime of memories, many of them during days of better health. However, being with family during the holidays and feeling loved, even in a state of poor health, is what stands out to her as special and memorable. There is a lesson in that for all of us.
On Tuesday, we enjoyed our favorite subs from Nino’s while exchanging gifts with “Papoose” (my dad), Grandma Wiest and my brothers.
On Wednesday we were treated to my dad and grandma’s homemade pot pie while visiting with more relatives on my dad’s side. It was a treat to finally meet baby MaKenna and see my cousin Laura after almost four years apart.
On Thursday, we made a trip with my mom and sister to Hershey’s Chocolate World, had lunch at The Chocolate Avenue Grill, and took Lily to the Disney Store.
That evening we attended a New Year’s Eve party at cousin Megan’s, where we got to see her new house and spend our last few waking hours with family.
On Friday at 3:40am, we were on the road back to the Bluegrass. We pulled into our driveway in record time at 12:07pm. Rosie handled the trip home even better than the trip to PA. At only 3 months old, she traveled extremely well. We took her with us to every single stop we made in PA, so she was just as exhausted as we were by the end of it.
By 7pm that evening, we had all of our Chirstmas loot unloaded and put away, our tree was down, Christmas decorations stored away, and Valentine’s decorations on display. By 8:30pm, we were all ready for bed.
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Belt Test, Black Belt, Lexington Dance Factory, Recital, Taekwondo, Tapper
Saturday was a big day for Rydan and Lily!
In the morning, Rydan tested for his 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. He’s taken the past few months to prepare for this test, which consisted of correctly doing his form, sparring for eight rounds, and then successfully performing three different wood breaks.
At this level of rank, Rydan’s belt tests become more intense to watch each time. The form is more complicated, the numerous rounds of sparring is exhausting, and then finding the energy and focus to perform three board breaks is quite a bit of pressure for an 11-year-old boy. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being in awe of how well he handles pressure. It’s really quite impressive.
When he stands tall in front of the judges and begins his test, we see nothing but focus, confidence and determination on his face.
The most nerve-racking part for me is always watching the board breaks. Rydan easily broke through on his first one, which was a jump front kick. The second one was a side kick, which I’ve seen him do with ease numerous times. This time, however, he missed his first two attempts and only had one attempt left. After missing the second try, I watched him shake his head quickly, not in frustration or disappointment, but as if he was just brushing it off. He set up for his final attempt, and moments later we heard the wood snap. The third break was an elbow strike, and he plowed right through it. Official results will be announced at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, so stay tuned!
The second part of our day was all about Lily. It was her first dance recital with The Lexington Dance Factory. The theme for the winter recital was “Oh The Things You Can Think.” Each class performed to a Dr. Seuss inspired song. Lily’s class did a tap routine to “Green Eggs & Ham,” in which they dressed like little chefs using spatulas as a prop. She had done really well at dress rehearsal, so I was fairly confident that show day would be no different. The only thing I was worried about was that she wouldn’t be able to see us in the audience and that would cause her to panic. Thankfully, we scored second row seats. Here is Lily’s face when she spotted us right after walking onto the stage.
After that, she was ready to dance.
We were so proud of our little tapper for being so brave for her first performance. I loved seeing her up on that stage. I also loved that one of her very closest friends, Reese (and her mommy, daddy and baby brother), came to sit in the audience with us to make Lily feel extra special. After the recital, we took the girls for ice cream to celebrate. Nothing compares to their giggles and silly conversations.
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Barker's Christmas Tree Farm, Christmas Tree
For most people, Black Friday means shopping for deals and crazy crowds. For us, it’s the day we venture to Barker’s Christmas Tree Farm.
This was by far the most time we spent searching for the perfect tree, but with such great weather, we didn’t mind one bit. In fact, last year Ryan actually stayed in the car until my dad helped us find our tree because he was still recovering from his transplant. That was back when he was fighting low blood pressure, so being on his feet for more than a few minutes was simply not possible.
Not the case this year! We probably spent over an hour walking among all of the trees, carefully inspecting each one.
After narrowing it down to a few options, we chose a beautiful, full, 9.5 foot tree.
This is by far the tallest tree we’ve ever had. Getting it to stand up in the corner of our living room without falling over was a bit of a task, but definitely a memorable experience. I can’t say we’ve ever had to tie our tree to the wall before, but I suppose there’s a first for everything.
We took advantage of the Black Friday sales that afternoon and purchased a few new ornaments as well as some additional lights. After that, it was time to decorate.
Those of you who know us, know that we always have two Christmas trees in our home. The second tree is an artificial one that Ryan and I place in our bedroom. We decorate it a little differently every year, but this is the most colorful it’s ever been. Lily calls it the “party cake” tree.
Wishing all of our readers a very happy holiday season!
She’s our new Vizsla puppy, and she comes to us from Hillsboro, Ohio, the same place we got our beloved Brooks. Rosie and Brooks share the same parents, which makes us feel like a small part of Brooks is still with us.
Ryan and I drove together to Hillsboro on Thursday while Rydan and Lily were at school so that we could surprise them with Rosie when they got back. Walking into our breeder’s house brought back a lot of memories from when we picked up Brooks. I honestly wasn’t sure how I would feel walking into that house. Our breeder, Carol, who is 85 years old, told us that she chose to breed Brooks’ parents again just for us. Hearing her say that brought tears to my eyes and reassured me that we were making the right decision to bring home another Vizsla. Our house just hasn’t felt the same without Brooks, and as soon as Rosie was in my lap, my heart started to feel whole again. Brooks will always have a piece of my heart, and I don’t think I’ll ever look at Rosie without thinking of him, but when I see Rosie move a certain way or look at me with those blue eyes, it makes me smile to see Brooks in her. She has definitely helped heal our broken hearts, but she’s also keeping Brooks’ spirit alive.
Rosie is just a baby at only seven weeks old, but she is very playful and extremely sweet. Just like Brooks, she loves to be held and lives up to the Vizsla nickname, “velcro dog.” Nothing makes her happier than being with us at all times. She plays hard, crashes hard, and hits the repeat button all day long.
Welcome to our family, Rosie! We are so happy to have you.
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Breeder's Cup, Halloween, PA Friends, Trick or Treat
We had quite a weekend. Our Pennsylvania friends, the Millers, arrived on Thursday. Ryan and Tori kicked off the Breeder’s Cup festivities on Friday by tailgating at Keeneland, while Stacy and I shopped for hats. On Saturday, all four of us dressed up and went to watch the races.
This was the sight when we arrived at Keeneland.
I didn’t realize that we would be able to get so close to the race track. It was really cool!
We didn’t win big, but we had a really fun time. It was an honor to watch the great American Pharoah run his last race and cross the Finish Line in first place. What a horse!
Meanwhile, Rydan and Lily were dressed up for Halloween, trick-or-treating with friends.
Lily also loved having Avery here to visit for a few days. These two girls became quick friends and played together all weekend long.
Thank you, Millers, for visiting us! We love seeing familiar friends in our new home state. Safe travels back to PA!
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Evan's Orchard, fall, Pumpkins, Trick or Treat
It’s beginning to look and feel like fall in Kentucky. We enjoyed a weekend jam-packed with all sorts of fall activities, but before I start writing about it and posting photos, let me back up to Friday…
Lily has been wanting to cut her hair short since summer time. Many of you know that she was practically bald way past her first birthday. The first time she ever wore pigtails was when she turned two. Since then, she’d only had two haircuts. I really was in no rush to cut her long hair, but after she persisted for so long, I caved. After all, it’s only hair, right? Plus, when she asked every day after school last week if it was “hair cut day,” I knew this was something she really wanted to do. She hopped right into the chair without any hesitation, and a huge smile on her face. Ali at Bak For More is the only one who has ever cut Lily’s hair, so we really trust her. Here is the result –
That’s ten inches of hair that we’ll be sending to Locks Of Love. Lily absolutely loves her new style. I can’t believe how grown up it makes her look! Onto Saturday…
We visited one of our favorite fall attractions, Evan’s Orchard, to pick some pumpkins. Rydan and Lily of course chose the biggest pumpkins they could find.
We then enjoyed a hayride out to the corn maze.
After that we let the kids enjoy the play area for awhile before heading back home.
The kids changed into their costumes, and we then drove to McConnell Springs to trick-or-treat. The crowd was a bit crazy, and it took us nearly two hours to walk the entire trail. The kids seemed to enjoy the characters along the way, though, and the weather was nice too.
Yesterday, it was off to a pumpkin-carving party with some friends. Lily chose foam stickers over carving, which was fine by me.
Rydan dug right into his pumpkin, though, and carved it all by himself.
From all of us in Kentucky… Happy Fall Y’all!