Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Canoe Trip

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have just returned from a vacation. We were in Ludington where we have a little place on Hamlin Lake. Being creatures of habit, we like to do the same things each year......one thing is that Tom likes to fish. I'll go out fishing with him once or twice but I'm not really that into worms or other slippery slimy things. And he gets annoyed with me really fast and usually doesn't even ask if I want to go with him after that first time! Hey, it works for me:-) We also like to spend some time on the beach. Well -- that's not really Tom's thing but he'll tolerate it once or twice just so that I don't complain about him fishing all the time. We also like to ride the Hart Montague Bike Trail. We like to go about 10-15 miles at a time. We took a shorter ride last week due to dark clouds and windy conditions.
But the favorite thing that we like to do is our annual canoe trip!! When the kids were little we would canoe up near Sleeping Bear Dunes and it was quite a production, let me tell you! The past few years we have gone to Baldwin Canoe and taken a couple of different trips from there on the Pere Marquette River. The river is clean and COLD (that's another story!) and the canoe livery is first class all the way! This year we were wanting to try someplace new just for variety and so on the way to the aforementioned bike trail we passed a canoe livery in Scottville which is a LOT closer than the one in Baldwin so we made plans to return there a day or two later.
We should have known when we saw the sign hand painted on the wall of the office that said "door" with an arrow pointing to the door! Anyways this place was such a dump! But really - all we needed was a canoe so whatever! The canoe man was telling us some of the features of this particular portion of the river and mentioned that we would be crossing over some buoys that were installed near the weir to keep the lamprey out of the river. He proceeded to tell us that although the signs indicated that you were not to cross over the buoys but rather to portage your canoes at that point, he felt that as long as we didn't touch the slightly submerged electrified wires running between the buoys that we would be able to get by without a problem. Seriously! There were a few tense moments as the buoys appeared around a bend but we held our breath and aimed between them and held our paddles way out of the water and lived to tell about it!
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. As you can see in the photo the water was pretty muddy still - from all the rain in June. Also there were a lot of trees and plant debris in the river as well. I like it when I can see what is in the water and usually this river is crystal clear. So it was pretty important to me that we NOT tip over. Especially after we saw a snake slithering slimily in the water. (Pineapple!)
Did I mention that the man driving us to the place where we launched drove us there on the wrong side of the road?? The wrong side of US10!!! Did I mention that Tom forgot the cooler? And that the man had to take him back to town to buy some water and that they left me alone in the middle of nowhere by the river to wait for them??? Did I mention that we had a blast??? Did I mention that we've already picked out our trip for next time???

Monday, July 28, 2008

28 Years!! Now That's Unbelievable!!!

On July 20th Tom & I celebrated our 28th Anniversary! Well okay maybe celebrate isn't the exact word! We were on vacation and he went fishing and I crocheted or something and that night we went to the local dinner buffet. Kind of like our wedding - simple yet satisfying. But yikes!!! 28 years!!! That was a LONG time ago. The picture on the left is the way we looked on our wedding day.
I was skinny and Tom had hair!
The picture on the right is us with our parents and grandparents. All of our grandparents are gone now. But what a wonderful day that was with all of them there. It may have been the last time we were all together. It was the hottest day ever! We were married outside and I remember sweat running down my back while we were saying our vows. One look at my hair tells you that it was also humid.
Our wedding was a rather impromptu family affair. There were only about 6 weeks between the time I said "okay" until the time we said "I do". And here we are so many years later and with no possible way to summarize the past 28 years - what a ride it's been!
And I just realized that Julie is not in either of these photos.....sorry Julie! I'll find one and post it later. Actually I think that's her head in the corner of the picture on the left!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Fun

The kids came over to hang out while Linnea was at a birthday party. It was a hot day so we set up the slip & slide (aka the grass killer) the giant sprinkler and the baby pool. I ran to Target with Caleb because he wanted an Indiana Jones Lego set and he has figured out (young!) that if he asks grandma for something there is a good probability that he can have it! And becasue the other 2 boys had just come home from a trip to Chicago and the Lego store and he didn't get to go. And they got Lego sets and he didn't and "Luke doesn't even like Legos". So off to Target we went. When we got back the other kids had set the slip & slide up on a slope in the yard. See photo on left. There is Luke "surfing" down the thing with Alec getting ready for his turn. Caleb and Selah were keeping a watchful eye on their big brothers. I love that picture - not because it is a brilliant picture or anything but to me it captures the essence of summer fun! The other picture is Selah - could she be cuter??!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Front Porch

We have always been a family of campers. Not because we all especially liked it. But because that was pretty much the only way we could afford to travel with our 5 kids. Some of the kids really hated it but when you are part of a family I guess you take the good with the bad. The boys, including Tom, were all involved in scouts so camping was totally right up their alley! Anyways had it not been for our camping adventures, we'd probably not have as many family adventures as we did. Which is starting to bring me to the point of this blog. It was during one such camping trip - to Ludington, that Tom found a place for sale. (I'll write about it some other time.) I had stayed home that weekend with some of the kids, for some reason. Anyways we went back up to look at this place a week or two later and decided to make an offer. So long story short...we bought it 11 years ago and have enjoyed it with family and friends all summer every summer.
Okay almost to the point...... Every summer since we bought it I have packed up the kids the day after school was out and headed up there where we spent the entire summer. Except for a day or two here and there when we came home to pay bills, do some laundry or whatever.
This summer, however, everything is different. First of all I have no kids left at home. Aha! The fabled "empty nest" is real!!! At least for the moment! (I'll tell you about that later.) Second, my mom & dad are needing more attention from me this summer with her broken hip on the mend and stuff. Third, I had my hand surgery which requires multiple follow up visits with the Doc and therapy. So I think I have been up there a total of about 6 days this summer. Not complaining just thinking about how different this summer is.
Are you ready for the point? Okay we have lived in this house for 12 years now and I have never spent a summer at home. And I LOVE it! One of my favorite things is sitting on the porch first thing in the morning before it gets hot. Seriously, I get out of bed to get to the porch early before the sun hits it. I take my coffee, my Bible, my journal and the sales flyers. It is lovely! The picture on the left is the porch and the picture on the right is the view. It is quite private. So much so that I could sit there in my skivvies. If I wanted to. But I don't anymore. Ever since the day the first (of 6) siding contractors came by to give a quote. Who knew they gave quotes at that hour???
When we first moved out here the kids would complain about how loud the birds were every morning. I remember Nathan actually yelling at them to "shut up!" Seriously??!! Anyways this morning, while on the porch, there were so many birds singing! It was like a bird choir or something. I'm not a bird person (surprise huh?) but it was awesome. Since we've moved here I've seen the usual robins, bluejays, cardinals, some brown birds, some black and white birds. Basically the same birds that lived in Livonia with us. But I've also seen woodpeckers (very cool except for making holes in my porch pillars that other unsuspecting birds fall into! but that's another story!), blue birds, orioles, some yellow birds, wood ducks (that nested in my attic), bats (maybe they're not birds?) and hummingbirds. This morning there was a hummingbird flitting around the purple flowers on my hostas. I wanted to run and grab my camera but knew that it would be too late so I just sat there quietly and watched. Very cool! It must've rained last night so everything was still wet. Do you know how pretty all those bushes and plants look with drops hanging on them? With the sun hitting them just right so they look all sparkly? Or how when the breeze hits the trees and all the leftover raindrops fall all glittery looking? It even smells wonderful - like wet wood or something. No - it smells like up north. Yeah that's it! Come on over and try it early some morning. You'll love it!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thoughts on a Summer Hump Day

Well this morning I got ready for hand therapy, said good bye to Katharine for the last time and wouldn't you know it - she was up on the table licking the handles on a plastic grocery bag - there was always something about plastic grocery bags! Anyways, she was eating which I haven't seen her do in a while and she let me rub her head without biting my hand. Tom came home to get her after I'd left and said she was laying on the floor meowing loudly. The vet said she was a very old cat and so she probably was quite unwell. The hardest part was coming home later knowing that she wouldn't be there but looking for her anyways and not finding her. All the other animals are very quiet today - probably afraid they'll be next!

On a happier note.....we seem to have finally - after 6 quotes - found a siding contractor to side our house! Hallelujah! We have had a parade of contractors here since the first week in June. I have selected the color scheme and it looks like work will begin shortly, which is quite a big deal since we have lived here 12 years and the siding has needed to be replaced the whole 12 years! What can I say..we don't like to rush into anything! LOL

Today is actually the mid point of my summer. It is 5 1/2 weeks since the last day of school and 5 1/2 weeks until I go back to school. Which is actually work. I mean that I am not attending school but I work at a school. It seems like this summer is going by so fast. Usually I would be in Ludington most of the time and coming home once in a while but this year I have only been up there for two weekends! We leave for vacation Friday for about 9 days and then I will be shuttling back and forth for a couple weeks with the grandbabies. It'll be fun. They like to come to grandmas and "eat junk" and stay up late and drink Mountain Dew for breakfast (sorry Julie!). The older they get the more fun they are - in terms of what they like to do and stuff. Alec usually has an agenda - go to the store buy him some more Legos, eat junk, go to the playground, get ice cream on the way back, etc... Linnea is a rule follower even when mommy isn't there so she'll pretty much want the pool, the beach, some games, etc... She will even take a shower! Luke has only had one or two solo trips so I'm not sure if he has an agenda yet. One thing is certain - he will keep me laughing! Here's a cute Luke story: Last year Tom & I had Luke up there with us and Tom kept calling him "Alec". Finally Luke turned around and looked at Tom and without missing a beat said "what did you say Billy?'' This will be Caleb's first time so I am just hoping that he actually comes and doesn't get too homesick. Maybe once he realizes how much fun we have???? And Selah.....well if you know Selah then you know that she is conjoined to Julie's hip and that it will be a very LONG time before she is ready for a trip to grandmas!!
My last thought of the day - today my hand surgeon gave me the green light to return to work. Are you serious!? It's been 4 weeks!! I would've been back about 2 weeks ago! Doesn't it look great!?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


She is named after Katharine Hepburn. It's a name I'd chosen when I was expecting both boys. Twice I had to choose a different name for them so by golly when we brought this little fluff ball of a kitten home about 19 years ago she was given the name Katharine.

Now I don't fancy myself a cat lover any more than I fancy myself a dog lover. However when the kids were really young and begging for a pet - after we tried the dog (see earlier post) a kitten/cat seemed a good compromise. After all, cats pretty much keep to themselves, don't chase the mailman, don't chew shoes, use a litter box, groom themselves etc... It seemed like a brilliant idea. A low maintenance pet. At least that's what I thought at the time! But really she has been a good kitty. Probably used up her 9 lives a long time ago. Like the time when she was really young - about a year old - and Tom left to pick up a pizza. No one realized that Katharine had been let out of the house by one of the kids (to this day we don't know which kid it was). As he started the car he heard a terrible sound from under the hood and saw a blackish furry streak fly out and into the garage. Apparently she had crawled up under the hood to keep warm - it was February - and had a run in with the fan belt. As I recall it took a day or two to coax her into the house and then another day or two to get her out from under my bed. When the vet saw her he wasn't optimistic but gave her every medical treatment available and in the end she was left without a tail and quite an abrasion on her side which is still bald today. She is one sad looking kitty!

Katharine has not been herself in quite a while now. She can't (or won't) go downstairs to use her litter box. She can't hop onto the table to eat. (People who live with dogs and cats will understand having the cat food on the table.) All day she sits in the computer chair. And she is not very happy if you want to sit there too. She bites my hand if I pet her but not tonight - tonight she is licking my hand. She used to love sitting on the sunny front porch or even on a sunny spot on the floor or in the window. Not anymore. Only the computer chair. When I googled the average age for cats it said 12-15 years. And that she is the equivalent of 92 years old. No wonder all she does is lay in the chair all day long!
Tom called the vet today. He will take her for her last ride to the vet tomorrow morning while I am at therapy. When I get home she won't be here any more. I think the other animals can sense something too. They are all moping around tonight like me. Tomorrow night when I sit here at the computer she won't be here with me and I feel so very sad.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Adventures in Babysitting

The boys - Caleb, Alec & Luke

The Joys....Selah Joy, Olivia Joy & Linnea Joy (whose picture won't stay up top here with the others for some reason!)

Did I hit the grandbaby jackpot or what??!!?? Look at these six cuties...three boys and three Joys! Number seven is set to arrive in September. She will not be a boy or named Joy. Which is not to say that she won't be a joy! I have been immersed in grandma heaven the past week or so. I spent 5 days in Ludington with Olivia and her mommy. Yesterday I watched the other 5 kids while their mommy went to the dentist. (I had 5 kids too but for some reason it didn't seem like so many then!) They arrived about noon and mommy didn't come back until about 5. I want the name of that dentist! In spite of the rain and the fact that they had to stay inside it wasn't bad. Really! The hardest part is trying to understand them. They have their own family dialect and use a lot of what I call Schultzisms. You try and figure this one out - "whyshesuckshespoppy?" (translationbelow) Or how about this interesting conversation...
Caleb: Grandma can you say lellow?
Me: Yep - yellow

Caleb: Not yellow! I said lellow!

Me: Oh

Caleb: You know, like Alec says

(Silly me!)

Or this one..

Caleb: Grandma do you have any crackers because I don't want one.

Me: What????

Caleb: I don't need one.

Me: Okay.

Caleb talks a lot. He follows you around all day talking. It is very cute. Yesterday he was talking about Legos and telling me that Legos are what he wants for his birthday. He wants the Indiana Jones set. You know...."but make sure they have the why-rections okay Grandma?" "The what?" "The why-rections that tell you how to build it!" (Duh!)

If it seems like this post is mostly about Caleb, it is. Only because the other kids were either playing Wii or watching a movie. Or in Selah's case simply trying to toughen up and wait for mommy to return.

Today I picked up the boys so mommy could take the girls to see the new Kit Kittredge movie. They had to go to therapy with me. Yikes!! But I quickly remembered the bribery trick and promised them DQ if they were good at therapy. Took them to the bathroom before we went in - the 2 big boys went in the men's room and Caleb came with me to the ladies room. My concern over the 2 boys alone in the men's room were quickly forgotten as I could clearly hear them through the walls and could tell that not only were they taking care of business but also some monkey business as well! They were amazed at some of the therapy equipment which unfortunately they were not allowed to play with. They all thought that I must have so much fun there! Yep - that's not exactly what I call it though;-) Once when I glanced over at them Caleb had some brown slimy smeary stuff running down his chin. I was horrified until I realized that he had found a melted chocolate Kit Kat bar in his pocket and was eating it! They were awesome so we all went to DQ before meeting back with mommy and the girls.

I don't know what I'll do with myself all day tomorrow! LOL

**Why does she suck on a poppy? (pacifier)

The very beautiful Linnea

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gone to the Dogs

This past week I've done some reflecting on the role pets have in our lives. I never fancied myself a dog lover. To say the least! Now I grew up with dogs - there was Tippy whom I have only the vaguest memory of. Then there was Smoki. The very day that old Tippy had to be put down my mom & dad came home with Smoki. He was cute, for sure. But he was mom's dog and her responsibility. Smoki was their third child.

After having kids of my own we ventured into the world of dog ownership once. Briefly. One of our kids pestered and pestered for a pet dog so in a weak moment we relented and brought home an adorable (HAHAHAHA) beagle. This dog, named Snoopy, of course, had one mission in life and was to escape from every single form of restaint and containment known to man. Fenced yard - yep - climbed over the fence. Tied to a rope in the fenced yard - yep - chewed through the rope and then climbed the fence. We even tried chaining her and still she broke free. It was a relationship that obviouly wasn't meant to be. But it took a run in with the mailman to seal the deal. But that's another story.
From time to time the kids asked if we could try a dog again and the answer has always been NO. I was not interested in ANY part of dog ownership again. Confirmed each time I visited my good friend and neighbor Cindy, whose two huge fierce black labs liked to alternately show me their teeth, bark and growl at me and then lick me! EEWWW! I am just not a dog person.
Back to the point of this post - the role pets have in our lives. Okay about 9 years ago Tom & I were out shopping the week before Christmas and we stopped at Tractor Supply for some bird feeder food. And there in the store was a rescue group showing dogs and cats that had been taken from kill shelters and were now being offered for adoption. Well there was this one dog. A medium size black Lab mix and she was so cute so we took her for a little walk around the store and then we purchased our bird food and left. But not before getting the phone number of the foster dog mom. And during the next few days we had many conversations about trying a dog again......you know the conversation......anyways we brought Murphy home one snowy afternoon between Christmas and New Years. It has been a wonderful experience having Murphy. (So much so that a few years later we brought home another dog. But that is another story too!)
Fast forward to this summer. Last week Cindy had to put down the last of her two "huge fierce" dogs. And as we sat on her deck that afternoon waiting for her husband to come home and take Toby for his last ride to the vet I was realizing that when you bring a pet into your family the odds are really good that you will outlive that pet and one day have to make a very painful and unselfish decision. And I was thinking that I had not even thought about that when I brought Murphy and Cadi home. And I was thinking that Murphy will be 10 next month and that Cadi just turned 6. And I realized that somewhere along the line I've gone to the dogs!