Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Deer Camp Review

  Deer camp comes at just the right time.  An escape to the quiet of the north woods right before the chaos of the holiday season.  This past week was most relaxing!  Many don't understand why I enjoy deer camp as much as I do.  Following is my list of top ten reasons...
  10.  This really should be #1, but it's the first thing I thought of, SLEEPING IN!  Sure, I set the alarm for 5:15 a.m.  Yes, I cook a big breakfast of pancakes and bacon.  I line up thermos' and fill them with coffee and hot chocolate.  Then I shoo them out of the camper before dawn breaks!  And I sleep...for another four hours!!!
  9.  I have total control of the stereo!
  8.  I don't HAVE to be anywhere.  My time is mine and mine alone!  It's very freeing.
  7.  I started and finished a book!
  6.  Text messages from the blind.  These seem to be sent for no other reason than my amusement.  Mark texted that he was out of coffee.  lol!!!  Silly hunters!  This isn't Starbucks!!
  5.  I act on impulse!  If I feel the urge to go into town, I go!  Had lots of fun when I stopped in at the local township museum to help with the Christmas decorations!
  4.  It's quiet up there!!  I hear the wind in the pines.  I hear the lake lap against the shore.  I don't hear the freeway that is blocks away from my front door back in the city!
  3.  An afternoon campfire!  I love the smell of woodsmoke.  This is a good time to ponder the days events.  And who knows?!  Someone is always stopping by.  I usually end up with a visitor. 
  2.  By the afternoon fire, some hot chocolate with Dr. Migillicuddy's peppermint schnapps.  (strictly for medicinal purposes!) 
  1.  When my crew comes home!!!!  After a quiet day, I rejoice in the noise and commotion of having all of my boys back from their blinds.  Love to hear their stories of the day.  Feed them dinner and settle in for a movie! Pasties, pie, hot coco.  I get to warm them up and take care of them.  Lots of guys go off to camp to escape their family, mine makes it all  about family, and I get to go too!!
Seriously, what's not to love about deer camp?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

PLEASE! Be Patient with the Clown.

  I need an outlet to grumble a bit.  Bear with me.  In my professional life, I work with children.  I love what I do!!  Kids, (without the interference of adults) are for the most part, very well behaved.  However, many times when you witness the occasional temper tantrum, it all makes sense after you meet the parents.  In fact, the parents are usually more poorly behaved than the children!
  Let me give a "hypothetical".  Say for instance I was clowning and making balloons for a line of children waiting for Santa.  The venue is paying me to make balloons ONLY for the line of children.  The premise being that this would help time pass in the excruciatingly long line for Santa.  I had been given  probably would have been given instructions to keep the line within the roped off area so as to not create a fire hazard and block isle ways.  To make a balloon for EVERYONE that walked up would be CHAOS!!!  As it was I can imagine it would be difficult just to keep up with the line of kids waiting to see Santa, never mind every shopper who sauntered on up.  I'm sure Santa is very efficient in moving through the line and a clown would really have to hustle!  
  Imagine then, that a father walks up requesting a balloon for little Susie. Little Susie is afraid of Santa and the family has chosen to not wait in line.  There is probably a line a mile long, looking at me expectantly, waiting for a balloon, and annoyed with the dad who walked right up...cutting in front of them (on my side of the fore mentioned roped off area).  I'm sure I would have gently explained that I am there to make balloons only for those in line (upon the instruction of those paying for my services), and I would have apologized, as I did to the previous 10 people who walked up and asked the same question within the last 1/2 hour.  Imagine if the parent in question became angry, and complained that the venue ought to provide entertainment for those afraid to see Santa.  This I would find surprising because, for one, events like these DO provide other entertainment! Like say...fireworks, bell ringers, carolers, free cookies, just to give a few examples.  And two, this is a free event that someone else is footing the bill for!!  Those throwing the bash don't owe you anything!  Be grateful for the free entertainment you've had the privilege of partaking in!!!!!  It amazes me how prevalent the entitlement mindset is throughout  our society!
  I do this for a living, and for the most part, I LOVE what I do.  However, it is still my job.  I'm not a volunteer.  I'm not a pretend character.  I didn't come out of the womb with clown makeup on.  I'm a real person, with a family, bills, a schedule, and other events I need to get to in a timely manner.  So it always amazes me when I've cut off a line for face paint or balloons, (my weekends are always double or triple booked and often I have an hour drive from one event to the next) and I get a parent that says "Can't you do one more?  He's crying!"  I'm a parent.  My kids have cried for things.  It's good when they don't get what they want all the time.  That's life.  It's not the first time they've cried and it won't be the last.  Hello!  Life lesson!!  It shows no respect for my time, or for that of the children who are waiting for me at the next event.  Now, I know the sun rises and sets on your little Johnny, but (and I know it may come as a shock)  they aren't the only kids in the world! 
  Or then there is the parent who wants you do do just one more based on who they are.  Ahhh, so I should tell the other ten kids I just turned away that they don't get face paint because their daddy/mommy isn't as important as you! Nice.
  Okay guys, forgive me.  I like to keep it pretty upbeat and fun around here.  Thanks for letting me vent to you today.  I really do feel much better!  I promise the next post will be much more positive.  The Holiday season is upon us, and we're all in it together.  Hold the door open for someone while Christmas shopping.  Give a warm smile to the cashier.  And be patient with the clown!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's All in My Head!

  I feel good today!!  I feel motivated!  I have to keep the feeling going.  I admit, diet and exercise is a totally MENTAL thing for me.  I don't just mean, it's all in my head, I mean I can be mental about it.  So, I've hired a personal trainer/therapist/body image consultant.  (my title, not his) I told him he should use that title in promotional material...seriously, I think it will help!
  I met him at the gym last night.  He asked how I was doing.  I said I've been wavering between embarrassment and self loathing!  The guy behind the desk chimes in with "It's a 'judgement free zone!'"  This farcical, plastic, happy crap can be a bit annoying!  I'm totally in favor of encouragement, however sometimes you need a little push, or a swift kick in the ...Mind you, this is the gym that keeps tootsie rolls on the counter...um...why??? 
   Anyway, it was a good workout last night.  I'm not Catholic, but I can imagine it's like going to a confessional!  A virtual stranger to whom I confess my deepest, frosted, triple chocolate sins.  I told him I share as much with him as I do my hairstylist.  And for that I get motivated!  I am absolved.  And I am encouraged.  That's what I need!  The accountability.  It's gotten so I don't want to embarrass myself by not meeting my weekly goals.  I've always been a pleaser.  Now I want to please the trainer!  It really is worth the twenty five bucks! 
I'd try anythi....almost anything!!!  lol!
   Today, feeding off the positive vibes of the night before I started a journal and hit the gym!!! (He told me he was proud of me!) Journal, complete with the ugly pics, (the ones that really look like you but you don't post on facebook) and the cute pics of me, the ones from twenty years ago... to motivate!  It's like telling myself, "Remember?  You can look good!"  Yup...it's all my head.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There YOU are!

  I think God has been trying to teach me something.  Naw, I know he's been teaching me something.  Humility is a theme that keeps popping up again and again!  It's the character trait I admire most.  A product of humility is putting others first.  I'm not talking "Martyrdom" here.  And I'm sure not saying that when you do put someone else first, that you should go around looking for a medal!  But when you put others first, blessings come right back atcha!
  To be able to put someone else first, you must recognize it's not all about you!  I once read an article about Tim Tebow.  A homeschool kid that played football (for the Florida Gators), so I naturally took an interest in him.  The article stated that his parents never let him read a newspaper article about himself.  He was praise worthy, a Heisman winner.  But they didn't want him to get too full of himself.  I liked that.  Okay, if you make the paper, it is kinda fun!  But I get where they were coming from.  He was getting a lot of attention, and they wanted to keep him grounded.  Words of praise have much more impact when they come out of someone else's mouth, not your own.  That's humility.  It's a struggle.  We naturally want to think about #1!!  Call it self preservation.
  Thinking about someone else doesn't mean you have to go without three squares, or forgo paying the rent.  No.  Fulfill your responsibilities! What is does mean is that you should realize, it's not all about you!  There is always someone who has it worse off.  I was mulling things over with a friend who suffers from depression.  She told me what she has come to learn is that when she helps someone else, she feels better about her own situation.  Have you worked at a soup kitchen?  Have you ever given school supplies out in a low income neighborhood?   Participated in a fundraiser for a sick friend or family member?  How did you feel after?  I know how I feel.  I feel good!  I feel like I've accomplished something!  It can be a small thing like clearing your schedule for the afternoon to sit with a friend in a hospital room.  You may not have any idea of the impact it had on the other person, but I guarantee it did.  The blessing comes when someone says, "Thank you!  (with tears in their eyes) It means so much to me to know how much you care!"  Because really, what else matters?  All any of us want is to know that someone else cares about us.  So show someone!
  Let me close with sharing the story of a friend of mine.  My friends daughter, Bryce has Neurofibromatosis (nf1). She has a large plexiform type neurofibroma in her right thigh and abdomen.  (In layman's terms, she has a HUGE tumor on her upper thigh!)  She has been dealing with chronic pain for over five years. On September 21 she had this large mass debulked in Chicago at Children's Memorial Hospital. The surgery was risky and took all day. The surgeon, Dr. Mckay Mckinnon is experienced in removing these tumors with great success at reducing pain and them not growing back. No surgeons in Michigan wanted to attempt the surgery saying it is too risky that these tumors bleed a lot during surgery and she may lose the use of her right leg.  Brenda battled insurance companies, and many times we would have long conversations where she had some serious questions for God.  Everyday life seemed to be a struggle, and Bryce needed constant attention.  The chronic pain kept her from attending school.  If anyone had reason to fall victim to a pity party, it was Brenda!  But she didn't.  Oh sure, she had her moments.  She needed a shoulder, a prayer, someone to go out to coffee with and listen.  But if one of her friends needed something, she'd be there!  She'd be the first to offer to help me clean my house.  She came over and painted my living room with me.  She'd always make sure to ask about how my family was doing.  She's supportive of her friends.  And in doing so, she reflects Christ.  She is humble and other oriented.
My dear friend Brenda!
  Bryce has another week to go in Chicago before she can return home.  I rejoice with them.  I've seen their struggle up close.  I look forward to meeting the new Bryce!  Unencumbered by a 9 pound tumor, and living the life of a "normal" teenager.  And I am thankful for a friend who is humble, selfless and an example of what it means to be "other oriented".  Love you Brenda!!!!
"Tell me how much you know of the sufferings of your fellowmen and I will tell you how much you have loved them." - Helmut Thielicke

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Comfort Food!

My kids will be sooo happy!  I thought I had lost this recipe, and found it in an old message I had sent to my brother in law.  Happy day!!  This is such a good, quick, fall favorite around here. 

1/4 c. onion chopped
1/3 c. green pepper chopped
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 T. flour
3 1/2 c. milk
2 c. cooked ham, cubed
8 oz pkg ww elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 c. sour cream
1 c. shredded swiss cheese

Saute onion and green pepper in butter until tender; stir in flour and salt. Gradually whisk in milk; add ham and macaroni. Bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Mix in sour cream and cheese; stir until cheese melts, but do not let boil. Makes 6 servings.

Now, go walk the dog and work it off!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


  Like everyone else, I remember exactly where I was on September 11, 2011.  Okay, I'll tell you, it's the thing to do.  We had just gotten back from a camping trip up north the previous day.  I had 3 little ones at home and was getting ready for the day...breakfast, laundry, etc.  Mark came home to tell me to turn on the T.V.  We were having the same bright sunny weather that N.Y. was having.  I spent the rest of the day glued to the T.V.  The following days, I spent with all of you.  My friends and neighbors, as we came together to comfort each other. 
   I was feeling very dark yesterday and earlier today.  I feel like where we are today, our economy, our government, are all ripple effects of that day 10 years ago.  There is nothing I can say about that day that hasn't been said.  We have a lot of work to do.  I want to leave the American dream for my kids. 
  But I feel better now than I did yesterday.  Maybe its the song.  Music always plays with my emotions.  Maybe it's determination.  I definitely can't give up believing in this country.  When it comes right down to it, most of us, left or right, are good people who care about each other.  God Bless.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Boys of Fall

  It's soo sweet.  And it's something that I observe as somwhat of an outsider.  My husband has a bond with my sons, and that bond is football. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge encourager!  I love watching my boys  play!  And I can ring a cow bell with the best of 'em!  But, I can't give you my opinion on the single wing offense, and I can't tell you the difference between a half back and a full back.
  My husband  played in High School.  He went to the state championship game...and lost.  He was too short to play college ball, and ended up serving in the military after High School.  I attended one football game in HS.  I think I left before half time.
 My introduction to football began when M. was eight, playing on the local Jr. league team.  I know some mothers hesitate to start their boys in tackle football at a young age, but I wasn't.  There really wasn't any stopping them!  They wanted it, and it was something they shared with their dad.  I never worried about injuries.  Life happens.  And I want them to live life.  I trust my husband's expertise in the matter of raising boys.
  M. shares his dads passion.  Oh, his first year of football!  They lost more than they won, and every losing game, I'd watch for that little eight year old frame to trudge off the field.  I know him by his walk.  Tears streaming down his mud stained face, head hanging.  He gave every bit of himself in every game he played!  Physically and emotionally!  He was driven.  He was homeschooled at the time and even back then, he would wear his game jersey to our homeschool co op.  He was proud!
    During M.'s last year of Jr. league, he outgrew his age!  There wasn't an ounce of fat on him and he was trying to drop weight. The league we were  with had a weight limit.   M. was unable to lose the weight he needed, and so, was unable to play.  That was their winning year. He stood on the sidelines every game, and helped his dad coach his littlest brother's team.   The boys he had played with for the last six years, his brother included, were going to the championship game...without him.  That's one game I will never forget.  The kids were so excited, they were playing under the lights at the high school!  I sat in the stands with him, and as the clock wound down, and we knew we were going to win, it was a frenzy of conflicting emotions!  B. was on the team, and I was happy for B!  And next to me sat M., watching others celebrate the victory that he so longed for, for the past six years.  And just like when he was eight, I watched the tears roll down his face while he sat in the stands looking on as his brother, teammates, and fans rushed the field to celebrate.  I can't tell you how much my heart hurt for him!!
  In some states, you can homeschool your kids and they can still play sports for the public schools.  Not in Michigan.  After much consideration, we chose to enroll M. in the local public High School...for football.  That really was our only reason!  I could not stand in the way of his dreams.  Since then he has made the JV team as a freshman.  I was glad for him as this victory came on the heels of the previous years Championship drama.  As a sophomore, he was pulled up to varsity.  Four games into the season, he broke his foot in practice.  After getting word at the doctors office that his foot was indeed broken, he kept it together until he left the office.  We made it to a bench in the lobby and he couldn't even stand, he was crushed.  I had a six foot 215 lb. "man" sobbing on my shoulder.  All he wanted was to play.  God it hurts!  I wanted nothing more than to have my foot broken instead of his.  Holding on to each other, and me crying with him, we sat in the lobby like that for 15 minutes.  It's an emotional roller coaster, this game! 
  This year, he made captain.  Proud is putting it mildly!  He has shown dedication and leadership and was recognized for it.  He's not a partier.  He has a few close friends.  Football motivates his GPA.  He wants to play college ball.  The first day of summer vacation, he was at the school, in the weight room.  If the High School's weight room was open over the summer, he was there!  He brought along his brothers with him.  He and his father have influenced them.  And this year B. begins his freshman year at the same school  M. attends.  Following in his brothers footsteps, he too made the JV team.  B. shows the same willingness and commitment to work hard to achieve his goals.  I'm glad that it's his brother that's his role model.
  Through it all, Mark has been their biggest fan.  Mark's been at every practice.  He coached for six years.  I don't think he's ever missed one of their games.  He doesn't belittle mistakes.  He IS one hell of a cheerleader!  He's the dad that the whole student body knows, because of his booming voice cheering on the boys from the stands, and his ability to keep everyone entertained!  Mark will sit with the boys after school and watch video of the weeks previous game. He is commited to them.
  At last weeks game, he went up to the school an hour and a half before the game started, just because he was excited.  I drove up to drop off some snacks and drinks so I wouldn't have to carry them later, and there he sat, top row, right under the press box (so he can hear what they say), alone and waiting, just staring out at the field.  I tease him.  I tell him he's living vicariously through the boys, but he's not.  He shares their passion for the game!  He's never forced them to play, but he won't let them quit something they've made a commitment to.  He tears up at the Kenny Chesney song "Boys of Fall", and in turn, so do I.  He loves watching them play.  And he's proud of the men they are becoming. I still have a hard time understanding the game of football. What I do understand is the bond that it is between my husband and his sons.  I love that they share it.  I don't mind being on the outside looking in.

Soo long ago.  So little.  I love this pic. 
Click here to watch the Boys of Fall...better grab tissue!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

They Don't Understand...

   I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning.  There seems to be a theme because I had the same conversation with someone else last week.  What is the theme?  Judgement.  We are all so quick to judge others, without knowing their circumstances.  Let me explain...
   We all make judgement calls on people.  You can say, "Oh, I don't judge!"  But we do.  Someone makes a fb comment and offends us.  And we judge.  We tell ourselves, that's not someone I want to associate with.  They are bad, rude, mean, inappropriate...etc.  We've made a judgement based on a behavior or a comment.  Sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly.  Sometimes we don't have enough information to make the right decision.  Sometimes we let an offense consume us, or we let it negatively interfere with another relationship.  Me?  I'm guilty.  But I'm working on it!
  There are people in my life that I am cautious with.  I don't necessarily "click" with them.  And I don't chum around with them.  You don't have to.  But, before we ostracize any and everyone who has ever stepped on our toes, or doesn't see eye to eye with us on everything, perhaps we should step back and try to gain a better understanding.  Why were they rude on fb?  Why did they cut you off in the parking lot?  Why is he so arrogant?  People claim to be compassionate about the plight of others, but too often we are all talk.  We don't take time to find out their story.  Maybe the whiny brat in the grocery store just buried his mother.  Maybe the rude waitress at lunch has a cheating husband.  Maybe that offensive friend on fb has a child with emotional issues. 
  In my friends situation, the two offended parties refused to attend an event where the offender would be.  They would miss out on reconnecting with others who would be there, and wanted to see them.  It seems a shame.  The offended person then turned around, and stepped on the toes of another. 
  It's not always best to act on your first response, in other words, don't blurt out what a jerk you think the person is.  Listen to others.  Quit doing all of the talking.  It's not always all about you!  You don't have to be sappy, you don't have to drudge up dirty laundry.  Just be polite, even when you don't necessarily want to be.  There is truth in "You get more flies with honey."  Show concern for others.  You get what you give.  These are just the simple lessons your mom taught you.  Civility.
  I'm not trying to sound preachy, but if we could just take a little time to gain an understanding of others.  If we were not so sensitive, so easily hurt and quick to judge, maybe we'd know how to handle situations differently.  And just maybe... we'd get along.  I think this song sums it up.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mom and E.'s Big Adventure!

I've never seen the bridge from here before! 
Five miles of amazing engineering.

The Mighty Mac

   What a whirlwind summer it's been! I can feel it slipping away. The past two nights have been great for sleeping (in the 50's), but it smells like September. My two older boys have started two a days for football. For me, that just means they are already on a school schedule. I wake up, and they are gone. They don't get home till 2:30. It never fails that summer seems to fade away long before I feel I've had enough of my kids to myself!
    I shouldn't complain too much, we've had a great time this summer! One on one time with any of the boys is a good thing. We were up north for a little over a week. Mark, M. and B. left early along with a friend of M's that we brought along. This left E. and I up to our own devices for two days! Monday, E. and I took Mackinac Island by storm!!
    We awoke to sunshine, blue skies, and bright fluffy clouds. Perfect! Whipped up some pancakes, settled the dog into the camper. Camera, wallet, cell phone attached to belt loops and inserted into hidden pockets. No bags today! We will be biking the island!!
There are several ferry lines that can take you to the island. One of them is some kind of jet boat that spews water fifty feet into the air behind it, and is supposed to get you there in fifteen minutes. That was not for us! This was mom and E.'s Big Adventure!! We wanted to savor every moment and make it last. A half hour ferry ride gave us time to take pictures, people watch on the boat, and feel the wind in our face.

Me and E. at the beginning of our big adventure!

First view of the Island
   Upon our arrival, the first thing we saw as we left the docks, was the bike rental place. This is no coincidence. Mackinac Island has no cars! As the story goes, when cars were first brought to the island, one backfired and spooked a horse, since then...NO cars allowed! While standing in line and surveying our choices, we spotted the tandem bike! Neither one of us had ever been on one, and the thought was appealing...we went for it! We got on, adjusted and took a wobbly spin down the first block.
    The toughest part is merging into traffic after stopping at a scenic spots...and there are a lot of them! Bike traffic is heavy, and small children (as well as some adults) tend to think they are the only ones on the road. They'll stop and converse in the middle of the street (and even park their bikes), forcing those coming up behind them to swerve into oncoming traffic!

You have to really trust the person "driving"...I drove!!!  lol!!!

    We made sure to stop at Arch Rock. It took me ten minutes just to find a parking spot among what seemed like hundreds of bikes! Nobody worries about chaining them up. If you are going to steal anything, it's for sure not going to be a rental bike. We started the steep climb up the hill to the arch. We must be in tough economic times, because it doesn't look like the state of Michigan Parks System has done anything to the steps or handrails in a good 20 years! This isn't comforting to someone who loathes (and I don't use the word lightly!) heights. I made it to the top, and was it worth it!! Amazing views of Lake Huron! Michigan is so much more than auto plants. Now, for the hike down, which was worse because you can see exactly how high up you are!
Arch Rock

Look at those little bikes down there!

Incredible views!

As we  peddled our way around the eight mile perimeter of the island, we noticed rock towers all along the beach.  Some big, some small, some with embellishments such as pine twigs added, or beach wood connecting two towers.  People would pull their bikes off to the side and create their own little monument as proof that they had visited the island.  Not wanting to miss a thing, E. and I pulled over to make a rock monument of our own!  As I looked at the time on my cell phone (we were renting the bike by the hour) I began to imagine the owner of the bike rental shop sneaking out to the area beaches under the light of the moon, making tower upon tower of rocks!  A slick, marketing scheme to keep customers out on the trails longer!!

Little stone towers everywhere along the beach!

You have to find good flat stones to make your tower taller.

Michelle and David Miller (whoever you are) we found your stone!!

E. and I with the tower we built.

Most of the island is owned by the state parks system, so once you leave the town proper, there are only a handful of houses that line the trail. Small cottages with forest behind and stunning views of the lake in front. Occasionally, you would see horses corralled in the yard. So it came as a surprise to find the big, lodge style home atop a hill! The windows on the first floor had been boarded up, and many on the second were broken. The paint was chipped and the weeds had taken over. It semed a hundred years old!  The Ghost and Mrs. Muir come to mind.  But it had mystique...and I loved it! Who would have left it? The house had a history, and I wanted to know more!

The cottage adjacent to the main house.

I just love it!!  If I win lotto, I'm buying it!

Tell me if you see a face in any of the windows...

Beautiful old boat!  I would love to see the inside.

Devils Kitchen

We passed beautiful boats, stunning homes, amazing scenery, and after two hours on our tandem bike, I was happy to hear E. exclaim, "I'm tired, my butt hurts, lets get lunch!!"  That was just what I was thinking.  We made our way to the rental place, then tossed around our options for lunch.  It really was a no brainer.  I told E., there's only one place to go...The Pink Pony!  We made our way through the bar and to the hostess station.  It would be a 20 minute wait, but that was okay.  We were on "island time"!  We decided to find a way to fill our time.  We walked over to the front desk of the adjoining hotel and managed to talk our way into a self guided tour of the Honeymoon suite.  Very nice!  E. was impressed with the hot tub in the room and commented that it would make for a very romantic evening!!  YIKES!!

E. checking out the amenities in the Honeymoon Suite.

The whole place was just charming!
   Our tour was cut short when our buzzer went off to let us know that our table on the patio was ready.  The patio at the Pink Pony was voted best in Michigan, and for good reason!  The views of the harbor are amazing!  So, my  review?  Views...exceptional.  Food...good.  Service...our waiter mumbled!  I kept having him repeat himself!  General atmosphere...the music was tuned to a local pop station (the banter of the DJ was annoying), and was too loud.  I was hoping for something somewhat more sophisticated to go along with the setting.  The company...couldn't get ANY better!!  As we sat chatting over our morning ride, E. became quiet and stared at me.  Being the smart alec that I am, I asked if he was impressed with how beautiful his mother is?!  ;)  He said "No."  (eh~hem!!)  He said he was thinking about how awesome it was that I would do all of this for him today, this "Mom and E's Big Adventure".  WOW!  I almost started to bawl, but I didn't want to lose the upbeat tempo of the day!  It wasn't an extravagant day.  We spent some money, but not too much.  It was just an adventure, just the two of us, but what an impact it had!  We need more adventures.

E. at the Pink Pony

Pink Lemonade at the Pink Pony!

I'm a ham.  I know.

View from the lower patio.

I enjoyed the whitefish taco with sweet potato fries!
   Our day began to wind down after lunch.  We strolled on over to the Museum on Merchant street where fellow blogger Brenda (of Bree's Mackinac Island Blog http://bree1972.wordpress.com/) works on Mondays.  I enjoy her blog, filled with stories and info on the Island.  I thought it would be fun to meet her.  She had worked earlier that morning and we had missed her.  However, we weren't disappointed!  Candy (who works the afternoon shift at the museum) and her cousin Stella, were a HOOT!!!  Truly, friendly Island natives!!  I look forward to seeing them again!  (Stella, stay on the Island!!!)
   I asked Candy about the big, old, abandoned house we had seen on our bike ride.  They knew of the house and said that it had been owned by...wait for it...the island's UNDERTAKER!!  I asked how long it had been abandoned, they said it wasn't.  The story gets better...apparently, his son still lives there!  Images of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir disappeared, only to be replace by visions of Psycho racing through my head.  It all seemed great fodder for the overactive imaginations of the Island's children at Halloween!

Candy and I

...and Stella too!

E. thought it was cool that this little one was bidding us farewell, and snapped a pic!

A favorite stop whenever we are up north..."The Big Dipper"!
     Our last stop on the Island was at May's for some fudge.  You can't go to the Island without bringing back fudge.  It's okay, I embrace the title "Fudge Sucking Lowlander"!  We thought about a carriage ride, but decided that would put us back at camp later than we wanted.   We went to the docks, and waited for the ferry to take us back to the mainland.  On the drive home, we hit our favorite ice cream shop in Cheboygan.  My kids are growing up so fast.  And my time with them is so short.  School and will be staring soon, and along with it a crazy schedule filled with extra curricular activities.  And in the midst of it, I will remember a warm summer day with a gentle lake breeze, and a twelve year old boy who thought I was the best because I spent it with him.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sisters, Boobs and Breast Cancer!

  Wow!  It's been  while since I've been here.  July has been a busy month!  Campfire Musings all across the east coast!  I've just gotten back from Massachusetts.  I was out there for the wedding of my youngest sister.  The trip coincided with my middle sisters recent discovery that she has breast cancer.  The news came as quite a shock.  This is going to take a while to write, I feel it already!  Are sibling relationships the most complex?  This is as much about relationships, as it is about my sisters cancer.
  We are as much alike in some respects as we are different.  And when we fight?  Ohhh....don't get in the way!!  It's like watching hurricane clouds over a boiling sea!  I can fight with her, but I get very defensive if someone else messes with my sister!  Her husband is an only child.  He doesn't get it at all! 
  In actuality, the older we get, the less we fight.  Chalk it up to maturity.  But every now and then, like a volcano, it blows!  Is she at fault?  YES!  Am I?  Yes.  But here's the thing, I can't control her.  I can't control her actions.  I can only control me.  She may still act poorly,  (she probably will!!  lol!! )  as will I, but it's my responsibility to change my behavior.  People are who they are.  It's a matter of accepting  them as such.  Diplomacy is an art!  Not saying that you can't discuss issues that arise.  But it's not my job to change anyone.  Leave that up to God.  He gave us 2 ears and one mouth so that we could listen more than we talk.
  So...cancer.  Fortunately, we had very gradually come back to a decent place in our relationship before she was diagnosed.  For that I am thankful.  She will be having both breasts removed.  She is 36.  She has a beautiful 1 year old daughter.  Her treatment will be aggressive and there will be a 50% chance that she will be infertile when all is said and done.  IVF is not a viable option.  This has been the biggest blow as she and her husband looked forward to adding to their family.  But, despite everything, she is taking on this battle with determination, strength, and a Whitcomb sense of humor.   You don't have to whisper when you say cancer!   I never knew there were so many "boobie" jokes!
  In a little over a week, she will start treatment.  I wish I could be out there for her while she goes through this process.  She will be having a "Head Shaving Party" at her salon.  I LOVE this idea!  Talk about turning a negative into a positive!!  Others will be getting their heads shaved, and there will be snacks and drinks.  Wanting to do what I could I eagerly offered to shave my head as well!!!  It seemed a good idea at the time...until I saw her really cute wig, done in a sassy blonde style.  Hmmm.  I reconsidered as my insurance won't cover the super cute wig. 
  What can I do to support.  Pink ribbon?  Eh.  I want to do something that would remind me daily to pray for her.  I want to do something pro active.  I want to fight with her.  For a long time I have been battling my weight.  The older I get, the less healthy I become.  Along with the extra weight comes a higher risk of cancer and a myriad of other health problems.  I've taken my health for granted.  Tricia has to fight.  If she can take on battling breast cancer, a fight she didn't start, I can for sure take on the extra pounds that have been torturing me!  Each time I am tempted, is a reminder to meditate and pray for her.  So I dedicate my struggle to her.  It may sound weird, but it's what I'm doing.  So keep her in your prayers, and I'll update you on the progress!   Here is a picture of Trish and her boobies!
Oh, the hat?  Looong story!

Tricia and Tracy

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day, Quantity Time!

  Thinking about the dads in my life.  I'm with neither of them today.  Mark has taken M. to his second football camp of the summer, so they are gone for the day.  My own dad lives 800 miles away, but I will see him in two short weeks. 
  When I was little, we lived in the small town that my dad grew up in.  My dad spent time with us.  What I remember most fondly, were Saturday mornings!  It would be just the two of us.  I would run errands with him.  We would bring the trash to the dump.  This was a fascinating adventure!!  A busy place, with mountains of trash, and birds circling overhead.  Then, off to pick up donuts and a newspaper.  I think the name of the place was "Honey~Dew".  Often times we would stop at my grandmothers who lived just across town.  Another busy place!!  My dad had 1 older brother and 5 younger brothers, so something was always going on there!  He'd have a cup of coffee and catch up.  I'd find a cousin, uncle, or neighbor to run off outside with.  In the summer we would spend the afternoon washing the car.  I don't ever remember my dad bringing the car to a car wash!  It cost money, that (at the time) they didn't have a lot of.  Plus, nobody could get a car "shining like new money", like my dad could!!  He worked in auto body for years.  First doing, then teaching.  He had a red, 1970, Cutlass Convertible.   I would scrub white walls, rinse off soapy water and "turtle wax" the chrome.  He'd tell me, "You just ain't cool if your chrome don't shine!"
This wasn't ours, but looks a lot like it.  Ours had a black rag top.
  He often had to work a second job, but it was out of necessity.  If he had painted a car during the week, I would get to go to Morris' shop, (don't even remember the name of the shop, but I remember his bosses name) and help him peel paper and tape off of the car.  I loved this.  He made me feel as if I were really helping.  It smelled of bondo in there.  I love the smell of bondo!  Often times my uncle and cousin would be there.  My cousin and I would explore the shop, and since it was a weekend, nobody would be there.  It was a spooky place to a couple of five year old kids, a rambling old building on the edge of the woods. 
  When I got older, he would often work on a car in our garage at home.  But it was in these everyday activities that a father/daughter relationship grew.  Conversations were had.  It wasn't planned.  We didn't have to "do something".  But in everyday life, he made his children a part of it. 
  These are the qualities that I love in my husband.  We do things together!  It could be as mundane as going to Sam's Club, and Mark would say we go "As a family!"  Obviously, as the kids get older, it gets more challenging.  But we do our best to make it a priority.  I don't buy the "Quality Time" theory.  Try telling that to someone you've just started dating.  Don't you want to spend as much time with them as possible?  It's not about going to an expensive restaurant, it's about being with them.  Sharing life!
Me and my dad! And a little B!  ;)   (A while back!!)
  We are given a very short amount of time with our children, a small window of opportunity to make an impact on their lives.  (And it goes by fast!!)  I'm glad my dad made time for me!
My boys dad!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever!

  Summer vacation!  Tomorrow is the first full day.  This past year, I have had two of my guys still learning at home. With M. in public school, I'm excited to have a little more of his time now that break is here!  It's a bittersweet summer.  Next September I will be sending B. off to public High School.  I'm going to miss B., so I want to make sure that we make the best of the summer!  (despite all of our crazy schedules)
  Today was a family outing that marks the beginning of summer.  Strawberry picking!!!  I love seeing how different activities have turned into tradition.  The kids expect to kick off the summer this way.  It wouldn't seem right if we didn't do it.  Our first year, M. hated strawberries.  However, he had only tasted the ones in the grocery store, that had been picked green and left to ripen on a shelf.  Sitting in a field full of berries, ripened by the sun was a whole new thing! Sweet, juicy, and he couldn't stop eating them!!  It was warm today, but not too hot, blue skies and a breeze.We spent the afternoon picking way too many strawberries!  The first season we went picking, we had so much fun, (and the weather was similar to today's), that we just kept picking!  (I don't know what I was thinking!)  When we finally had them weighed, I just about choked when he told me my bill came to $75.00 worth of those ripe, red berries!!  It seemed like a good idea at the time!  We are experienced pickers now, and are far more self controlled.  We leave the strawberry fields with red stained lips, fingers, bottoms and knees.  A perfect afternoon made better only by a trip to the local dairy freeze for some soft serve.
The fist step in a successful berry picking trip, is testing the product to ensure it meets standards.

Poor attempt at self portrait, esp. when I'm not looking at the camera! 
But I thought the reflection in the glasses was cool!

Looking for good ones.

Our job is to fill the box!

Dear Santa, please bring me a REAL camera for Christmas!!

B. lost in the fields.  I had to keep them from whipping the rotten ones at each other!

It's exciting when you find the perfect, plump, red berry!

Our reward!

  Later I will scour the Internet for strawberry recipes.  Breakfast on our first camping trip of the season is already planned.  Pancakes with homemade strawberry syrup!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  (By the end of the week the kids are begging for scrambled eggs!)  Welcome summer!