Running off with the Circus

Joey Holt, a 14-year-old Fort Thomas resident who is an 8th grader at Highlands Middle School, is running off to Germany with the circus this summer. My son Joey really is an extraordinary kid who has defeated a rare disease called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. The cancer attacked his hip bone causing him to need a bone graft and making doctors wonder if he would ever walk again. After months in a wheelchair, years of physical and occupational therapy and counseling for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, not only can Joey walk, he can perform in a German Wheel and do tricks on a cable wheel.

joey german wheel2

Joey met Paul Miller, owner of Circus Mojo, and some of his team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital while waiting to see doctors in 2010. Joey enjoyed their entertainment so much that he asked me to schedule his appointments for when they would be in the waiting room. They taught him to balance a feather on his hand, spin plates and a little bit of juggling. The next year was quite a battle for Joey. He was in a wheelchair, doing therapy, dealing with nerve pain, in and out of the hospital as an inpatient all while trying to go to school. He was a fighter though.

joy wheelchair

joey walker

joey hospital

The next summer, 2011, I won a week of camp to Circus Mojo from a local blogger. Joey was ready to go learn more tricks but was using a wheelchair and crutches again due to pain. Paul said they would work around it and to send him to camp anyway. Joey was so determined to be able to do the silks, German wheel, cable wheel and everything else the circus had to offer that by the end of the week, Paul was balancing the wheelchair on his chin and Joey balanced the crutches in his hand.

joey balance

Joey fell in love with circus that summer and has been working with Mojo ever since. He trains every Saturday, performs for the public every chance he gets, attends summer camps and practices constantly at home.  His hard work has paid off. Circus Mojo is taking Joey to Germany this summer to train with Circus Pimparello for a few weeks. His trip is estimated to cost approximately $2000. Joey is for hire to perform at parties, teach kids circus tricks, babysit, take care of pets and do other odd jobs. All money earned will go toward his trip.

joey flyer

You can also help give Joey a chance of a life time by sponsoring a portion of his trip with a tax deductible donation. Donations can be made to Circus Mojo’s Foundation, The Social Circus Fund, at https://socialcircus.wordpress.com. Just click on Donate Here. Donations can also be mailed to the Social Circus Foundation, 326 Elm Street, Ludlow, Ky., 41016. PLEASE write in the memo or comments that the donation is for JOEY HOLT’S Germany Trip.  Please contact Gina (gina5620@gmail.com) or Nick Stegner (nstegner68@gmail.com) with questions or to hire Joey.

Note: Learn more about Joey at http://local12.com/news/local/circus-helps-teen-recover-from-rare-disease

Zipping Over the Gorge

I’m a big believer in experiences as gifts. A coat will go out of style, small appliances break, we lose interest in toys and electronics but are memories are forever. So my husband and I gave our five children (Josh, 24, Jordan, 21, Joel, 20, Andi, 16 and Joey, 14) an experience gift for Christmas 2014. We booked a beautiful cabin at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky and took all but Jordan, who was pregnant, ziplining last June.

Photo by Josh Stegner

Photo by Josh Stegner

We had planned this trip well in advance so there wasn’t much we could do when we found out it would be pouring down rain all weekend. We weren’t going to let rain and cold stop us though. Ziplining with Red River Gorge Zipline Tours over the Gorge was breathtaking. I won’t lie… the rain hurt my face and I was shivering at times but it was worth it. The tour offered five ziplines anywhere from 330 feet to 1900 feet and lasted about 2-1/2 hours.

We stayed at Red River Gorge Cabin Rentals – A Ma Zing Grace. The four bedroom, two bathroom cabin could easily sleep 12 people so the seven of us were more than comfortable. We stayed out of the rain some by playing board games, pool and watching movies. The kids even embraced the rain with a dip in the hot tub.

gorge hottub

gorge rest

 

We had an amazing view from the cabin.

gorge fog

gorge view

No trip to the Gorge would be complete without a stop at Miguel’s Pizza. It  is just a little family owned business that serves great pizza, bottled drinks and has a cool outdoor area. I definitely suggest checking it out.

gorge pizza

On our way back to the cabin from Miguel’s, we decided to checkout a nearby waterfall.

gorge waterfall j

gorge fall

Natural Bridge is basically next door to the Gorge so we checked it out as well. Some of us had been there a few times but it was a first for some of the kids. They couldn’t believe the gorgeous view. You can hike up to the bridge but we took the Sky-lift.

gorge skylift

We had fun exploring.

gorge tunnle

gorge andi

We stopped on the bridge for a family photo.

gorge natural bridge

All of us loved every aspect of this trip and suggest staying at the cabin I mentioned, enjoying the nature all around the Gorge, checking out Natural Bridge and taking a zipline adventure. This was our last trip before our blended family started to expand. Nick and I couldn’t be happier that Jordan has found Chad and has a gorgeous baby girl. It was nice though to have this one last experience with just mine and Nick’s kids. But I can’t wait to have Chad and Eden join us on our next adventure!

DIY: Decorate for Fall on a Budget

I don’t often write about crafting because to be honest, I’m not very crafty. But once in a while, my job requires me to step out of my comfort zone and make a few things. Making fall lanterns for a Fox 19 segment gave me the crafting bug so I made a few things for my house and a friend’s. I chose very simple and inexpensive crafts.

Fall frames

Fall Picture Frames

Fall Picture Frames Supplies:

  • Four picture frames ($4 – Dollar Tree)
  • Card stock or scrapbook paper ($3 – Michael’s)
  • Chipboard letters ($5 – Michael’s)
  • Craft Glue ($3 – any store)

Fall Picture Frame Instructions:

  • Cut the card stock or scrapbook paper to fit your frame
  • Glue the chipboard letters to the paper
  • Frame the paper and letters
Wine Bottle Vase

Wine Bottle Vase

Wine Bottle Vase Supplies:

  • Empty wine bottle (Free)
  • Artificial leaves, berries, acorns, pumpkins ($4 – Dollar Tree)
  • Twine, ribbon or raffia ($1 – Dollar Tree)
  • Optional: Chalk board sticker ($1 – Michael’s)

Wine Bottle Vase Instructions:

  • Place artificial plants in wine bottle
  • Tie twine, ribbon or raffia around plants stem at top of bottle
  • Place sticker on bottle and write Fall, your last name or other word of your choice
Fall Lantern

Fall Lantern

Fall Lantern Supplies:

  • Mason jar, vase or glass bowl ($1 – Dollar Tree)
  • Glue dots or craft glue ($3 – any craft store or Target)
  • Battery operated candles (2 for $1 – Dollar Tree)
  • Bag of artificial leaves ($1 – Dollar Tree)
  • Optional: Twine, raffia or ribbon ($1 – Dollar Tree)

Fall Lantern Instructions:

  • Glue the artificial leaves inside of the jar or vase (Tip: The glue dots make this very simple)
  • Place a battery operated candle inside
  • Tie raffia, twine or a ribbon around the jar
Fall Lantern, Ghost Jar, Candle Platter

Fall Lantern, Ghost Jar, Candle Platter

Candle Platter Supplies:

  • Fall scented pillar candle ($2.50 – Michael’s)
  • Fall colored tealight candles ($5 for box of six – Michael’s)
  • Gold or fall colored tray ($3 – Michael’s)
  • Bag of rocks ($1 – Dollar Tree)

Candle Platter Instructions:

  • Arrange pillar candle, tealight candles and rocks on tray

Ghost Jar Supplies:

  • Mason jar ($1 – Dollar Tree)
  • Ghost Peeps ($2 – Walgreen’s)
  • Candy Corn ($2 – Walgreen’s)
  • Optional: Ribbon ($1 – Dollar Tree)

Ghost Jar Instructions:

  • Fill the jar about 1/4 of the way with Candy Corn
  • Place the Peeps facing out inside the jar
  • Fill the jar the rest of the way with Candy Corn
  • Tie a ribbon around the jar

I was able to make three Fall Lanterns, a Candle Platter, a Ghost Jar, a Wine Bottle Vase and Fall Picture Frames for under $40 since some of the supplies overlapped. I also have extra supplies to make more fun decorations.

What is your favorite fall decoration?

Note: I found most of these ideas online but gave them my own twist.

Anniversary in Bellevue, Kentucky

It’s hard to believe that Nick and I have already been married a year. As our anniversary was approaching, we discussed not spending a lot of money because we have a few trips planned this summer with the kids that we want to save for. We decided we would get away for a night but do it locally.

We booked a room at the Weller Haus Bed and Breakfast in Bellevue, Ky. We also made dinner reservations for Virgil’s Cafe in Bellevue. As we were planning our evening out we kept joking about our big anniversary being spent in Bellevue, less than 10 minutes from our home. We knew we would have a good time but were both secretly wishing we could go a little farther away.

better front front

It ended up being perfect though. We checked in at the Weller Haus around 5:30 p.m. The inn keeper gave us a tour of the beautiful facility including the breath taking garden. We headed upstairs two our two-room suite. The bedroom, private bathroom and Jacuzzi breakfast room were all amazing.

garden

We headed to dinner at Virgil’s. We were immediately taken to our table and served champagne on the house since they knew it was our anniversary. I will admit I don’t normally like champagne but this was delicious. I ordered the mushroom risotto with a winter salad. Everything was fantastic.

After dinner we headed back to our room to enjoy the Jacuzzi. It was extremely relaxing. We then headed down to the guest kitchen to grab a few drinks and snacks. We also grabbed a movie from their DVD collection. The Weller Haus provided us with chocolate covered strawberries as well. They were fantastic.

We requested that breakfast be served in our bedroom instead of the common dining area. We were able to choose from several items.

breakfast

I probably gained five pounds in that 24 hour period but it was well worth it! It may have only been a few minutes from our home but it really couldn’t have been more perfect.

Spring Break Getaway with Teens

The week before spring break I asked Andi, 15, and Joey, 13, want they wanted to do for spring break. I gave them at least two dozen ideas of places within a few hours of home. CoSi Museum in Columbus? The Airforce Museum in Dayton? The Science Museum in Louisville? Hiking in Hocking Hills? The Columbus Zoo? The Kentucky Horse Park? Shaker Village? Explore Yellow Springs, Ohio? Play in the waterfalls at Clifty Falls? Paintball? Ziplining?

You would think they’d be excited, right? Nope. They both looked at me like I was crazy. They made all kinds of jokes about just sleeping their spring break away. Honestly, my feelings were kind of hurt that they weren’t excited about going out of town with me. I decided they were going whether they wanted to or not and I would pick the spot. My 19-year-old step-son Joel announcing he was going did help the other two get on board. They love spending time with their big brother.

So I decided we were going to Cave City, about 3 hours south west of Northern Kentucky.After doing some research, I booked a cave tour, rappel and zipline at Hidden River Cave. After that we stopped at the Kentucky Action Park to go horseback riding. We went back to The Action Park the next morning to enjoy the ski lift, another cave tour, an alpine slide, a rock climbing wall, go-karts and more.

I could go on and on about how much fun we had but I think I’ll just let our pictures tell the story.

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Not only did we have a lot of fun, we truly enjoyed being together. It was our first real trip with Joel, that didn’t involve a Military graduation. I enjoyed watching the three kids interact, talk, laugh, tell jokes and just be silly. One of the best laughs was when Joey used Andi’s prescription face cream to brush his teeth and announced “this toothpaste tastes like crap!” It really was an awesome time!

Money Saving Tips:

We saved more than half with a Groupon for the activities at Hidden River Cave. Save money at The Adventure Park by buying a day pass for $25 per person. This allows everyone to enjoy everything at the park, except for horseback riding and ziplining, all day long. Horseback riding was actually really affordable, only costing $18 per person for an hour. If you are going to zipline at The Action Park, get a couple buddies together and buy three zips for $100. I was extremely impressed with The Action Park because they offered free day passes, free horseback riding and free ziplining to active military. We were able to save a lot of money since Joel is in the National Guard.

Have you been to Cave City? What was your favorite adventure?

Nutcracker Ballet Ticket Voucher Giveaway

nutcracker

In a world where sugarplums dance, rats are kings and toys come to life, one little girl goes on the adventure of a lifetime through the Land of Sweets. But is it all a dream? There’s only one way to find out. Accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, Frisch’s Presents The Nutcracker, presented since 1974, is Cincinnati’s favorite holiday tradition. Revel in the magic as Clara and her Nutcracker Prince meet exciting characters, absorb the bright colors and enjoy the classic adventure of The Nutcracker.

PERFORMANCE DATES AND TIMES

Friday, December 19 – 7:30 pm Tuesday, December 23 – 2:00 pm SP
Saturday, December 20 – 2:00 pm Tuesday, December 23 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 20 – 7:30 pm Friday, December 26 – 2:00 pm SP
Sunday, December 21 – 1:00 pm Friday, December 26 – 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 21 – 5:30 pm Saturday, December 27 – 2:00 pm
Saturday, December 27 – 7:30 pm

*SP denotes Sugar Plum Parade: Take a walk across the stage to see the sets, costumes and dancers up close!

International ballet dancers Venus Villa and Rolando Sarabia will be joining Cincinnati Ballet for several weeks this December to perform in The Nutcracker. Both Villa and Sarabia have
enjoyed distinguished careers that have allowed them opportunities to dance all over the world. Villa is originally from Cuba and has danced with the Royal Ballet, the English National Ballet
and Vienna Staatsoper Ballet. Sarabia, also from Cuba, is a gold medal winner at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, as well as multiple other international competitions. They will be dancing the roles of the Snow King and Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier for select performances. Villa and Sarabia join us from Rome where they most recently appeared as guest artists with the Rome Opera Ballet in Don Quixote.

Giveaway

We have a voucher good for two tickets to the 40th anniversary of the Nutcracker. You pick the date! You have three chances to win. Make sure to comment separately for each entry to increase your chances. A winner will be chosen using random.org. All entries are due by Monday, Dec. 15 at noon. The winner will be announced on the Raising2tweens Facebook page Monday afternoon and have 24 hours to respond. Be sure to check the Facebook page.

How to enter:

1. Comment here saying who you would take with you to the Nutcracker. (Required to enter)

Optional entries:

2. Share this blog post on your Facebook page and tag Raising2tweens. Be sure to comment here that you did (will be verified).

3. Tweet this blog post and comment here that you did.

Good luck!

Cincinnati Ballet’s Peter Pan Flash Ticket Giveaway

peter panFor those who never want to grow up, there’s Never Never Land. Luckily, for the Darling family children, Wendy, John and Michael, there’s Peter Pan to guide them through this magical place full of pirates and Indians and Lost Boys. The foursome (with the help of the mischievous Tinkerbell) fly to Never Never Land where the cranky pirate Captain Hook, a hungry crocodile and more adventures await. Follow along on this swashbuckling journey, past the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning, as these classic characters learn what growing up is really all about. The Kenton County Public Library would like to help one lucky winner experience Never Never Land. See the giveaway details below.

Tickets can be bought at the box office or by visiting the Cincinnati Ballet Website. Ticket Prices range from $32 to $100.

Show times:

Friday, November 7 – 8:00 pm

Saturday, November 8 – 2:00 pm

Saturday, November 8 – 8:00 pm

Sunday, November 9 – 2:00 pm

Giveaway

I have a voucher for two tickets to the performance time of your choice.  A winner will be chosen randomly by the end of the day on Wednesday, Nov. 5. The winner will be announced on the Raising2tweens Facebook page and will have 24 hours to respond to claim the voucher. Arrangements will be made to receive the voucher.

How to enter:

1. Comment on this post stating why you never want to grow up (required to enter)

Bonus Entries:

2. Share this post on Facebook tagging Raising2tweens and comment here stating that you did. (Entries will be verified)

3. Share this post on Twitter.

4. Like Raising2tweens on Facebook

Good luck!