Category Archives: Michigan Adventures

Clowning Around

Today found us heading out for a field trip to The Parade Company in Detroit.

We saw where they build floats and big heads for America’s Thanksgiving Parade; it is the third biggest Parade in America–behind the Rose Parade on January 1st and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

It started in 1924 as the JL Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Employees from Hudson’s were in the parade–but only men–they pulled the floats.  A couple of years later women were allowed to be in it and all were paid for doing so.  The parade was not held in 1943 and 1944 as the parade supplies were donated for the war effort.

The Parade Company employs artists and has 4,500 volunteers that put on the parade each year.  People 14-years-old and up can walk in the parade.  Wearing a Big Head or being a clown is an option for those making a donation of various sizes.

We saw a styrofoam culture being crafted, floats from previous years that will be reused, and a float being dismantled that is being taken out of service.

Can you find the first ethnic float character or the handpainted Petoskey stone?


The Apple of Our Eyes

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It was late in the season, but the girls and I went strawberry picking yesterday.  The weather was perfect and we had a great time.  We each got to pick one pint, ride the train, have a doughnut and cider, and play in the play area.

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It was definitely worth the drive!

Overeating–Kid Style

A few weeks ago I was over the moon thrilled to find out I had won four tickets to Pinkalicious the Musical from a giveaway at Mrs. Weber’s Neighborhood.

It was a gift I wanted to give my girls, but just didn’t see a way.  I have entered quite a few giveaways and always hope to win.  This is the first one I prayed about and cried over when Lauren announced I had won.

The girls, especially Patrice, had been extra grumpy all afternoon.  Patrice’s attitude made me wish I could leave her home, but I thought leaving a 4 year old alone would be a poor parenting decision, so instead, I let her crawl around on the floor at the show before it started.

What?  She just got an amazing dose of “build the kids’ immune system.”  Free gift with every ticket.

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The older girls were antsy because I made us get there so early, but they were troopers.

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Then the show started.  The girls were quite entranced.  Thankfully, that included Patrice.

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What’s not to love?  There were cupcakes, a girl who turned pink because she ate too many pink cupcakes, there were fairies, and there was a lesson about not overeating sweets and making sure to eat green foods too!

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It was a marvelous rendering of a very cute book character.  I am so glad we went!!

And the frosting on our night?  I got to hug Lauren, the woman behind Mrs. Webers Neighborhood!

Flexibility is the Name of the Game

Thankfully one of the groups I am part of for Homeschooling posted a reminder yesterday for the trip to get pumpkins today.  I had completely forgotten.

The weather was beyond ideal for our foray into a wagon ride, picking pumpkins, and eating cider and donuts.

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And then it was time to head home for our book work for the day.

As we were driving Patrice said, “I wonder what happens when you go to the pumpkin patch and the zoo in the same day??

The day was gorgeous, sunny, perfection.  And I wanted to be the fun mom, so we found out!!!

We went to the zoo too.  And I am so glad we did.

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See that little fuzzy blob way in the distance to the right of the red ball and just to the left of the rock that sticks up?  That’s a giraffe.  That was born LAST NIGHT.  We saw it when it was just 18 hours old.  It is the first giraffe born at our zoo in 22 years.  And we saw it!!!

That wasn’t all.

We went to the kangaroo exhibit.  You walk into a large area that is decorated with cute Australian buildings and the wallabys and kangaroos are laying or hopping around.  And today one of the girls had a Joey in her pouch.  And we saw it!!!!!

Factoid for you:   The gestation of a kangaroo is only 30 days.  Baby kangaroos are the size of a lima bean when they are born.  They do not have eyes.  As soon as they are born they latch on and start eating, round the clock.  They hang out in the pouch about 4 months before they venture out.

It was so amazing.  I felt so blessed and lucky to be able to see the baby giraffe and joey.

It was fun, two field trips in a day, but rest assured tomorrow there will be some catch up to do…hope the girls are ready!

Dear Lighthouse Lady

Dear Lighthouse Lady,

You are very friendly.  I was surprised at how quickly you started up a conversation as we stood at the Lighthouse I had just toured with Caitlyn and Patrice, and was now waiting for my hubby to finish his ascent and descent.

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It was very pleasant to hear where you were from, why you were at the Lighthouse and who you were waiting to see come down.

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You should have stopped there.  But you didn’t, did you?

I assumed when you asked if the three girls playing in front of us were mine, that you would say the obligatory, “Oh how cute!”  But, not you!

“Do you want me to pray for you?”  Uh.  I know what prayer is, but whose first question, after finding out the kids are mine, says that?!

More words come out of your mouth.

“I had two daughters.  They are hard.  Boys start out hard, but they get easy.  Girls stay hard.  I had two daughters.  It was torture!”

I stand there nodding like an idiot, thinking, what woman?  What kind of thing is that to say?  I feel bad for your daughters!!!!

And you said all of this right in front of my girls.

I smile and nod and scurry away.

Your words are nice enough to stick with me as we play on the beach.

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After thinking about your harsh words for a while, I call Caitlyn and Sue over.  “Girls, remember that lady by the Lighthouse?  And how she said some mean things about having daughters?  I know you saw me nod and smile, but it was not because I agreed with her.  It was out of politeness.  But, I want you girls to know she is wrong.  Having daughters is not torture.  I am so blessed and honored that God gave me you three girls to raise.”  There was hugging and off they went to play in the water.

Now, m’am, I am not in anyway a Pollyanna.  I am more than aware there are challenges to having three girls. The first?  Only one bathroom for our family of 5. Or, any kids at all.  I am very well aware that I will have three teenage girls all at the same time.  But, that does not make my life torture.  Not at all.  I am blessed.  I am honored to have my girls.

Dear Lighthouse Lady. I hope by some miracle you are able to have a good relationship for your girls today.  I pray they have matured to love and honor you.

In the meantime, Dear Lighthouse Lady, I’d appreciate if you and I never cross paths again.


A Proud Mama of 3 Girls

(that picture that looks like it is just a lighthouse?  My hubby is up there waving.  I climbed that thing, but it was torture.  I abhor spiral staircases and heights don’t make me giggle.  Of course, hubby was up in no time, and stayed outside chatting the lighthouse keeper for an eon.  Sigh)


One Problem

I have been trying, this summer, to be a little more present with my kids.  I fail pretty darn often, but I think I pull it off other times.

Take the last few days as an example.

Friday, the girls and I drove out to join some homeschooling friends for the day.  They were camping at a great place with a few pools, a lazy river and a tot play area with sprinklers and little water jets.  And, for once, I donned my bathing suit and got in with them. I put away my phone/camera. That might now sound like much to you, but I am not a water person.  I don’t like how it takes time to get used to the water temperature, I hate the feeling of the wet bathing suit against my skin and I am not much of a swimmer, so I end up doing lots of standing around.

Now, let’s again talk about my awesomeness as we review yesterday.  The girls earned free waterpark passes through our county sponsored reading program.  And yes, they include homeschoolers.  It is a great park.  It has a large wave pool, a big tot play place that is geared toward the littles, but great for the bigs too.  And, let’s not forget the large lazy river.  We did them all.  Yes, me included.

It was all fun enough to make me wonder why I am always so resistant to these activities.  But, there is one problem.  I am the family picture taker.  So, if I actually join in the fun, there are no pictures.  I got nary a one on Friday and just a few yesterday.

This is the tot area

This is the tot area

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It is fun to get involved, but now I am missing tons of cute pictures.  I’m kind of torn on what I think.  I love the fun, but I love the pictures too.  It’s kind of hard for me to put down the camera and be part of the action.  I want to do both, but I have to choose one or the other.  I like playing with the girls, but then I have less to show daddy of the fun we were having.

I know, I know.  I think too much.  My brain gets too concerned about little or non-issues.

How do you balance the two–joining in or capturing the memories on film, er, whatever it is now since it’s no longer film.

My Daughter the Seagull

We were on vacation with my hubbys’ family this last week.  We were in the most beautiful place on earth, Michigan, specifically, Lake Michigan and the Sand Dunes.

There is nothing more beautiful than Lake Michigan.

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And the Sand Dunes

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And the pool

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And to top off this amazing vacation…we discovered we were raising a seagull.  Patrice can do the pitch and sound, perfectly.  At one point, there were seagulls moving closer to her.

My daughter, the seagull.

School is Canceled!!!!!!!!!!

We started our morning with homemade waffles, and a leisurely time chatting while we ate.  Then the girls scattered for a few, waiting me to call them to start their schoolwork.  Instead, I walked into the room they were in and yelled, “School’s Canceled.  We’re going to the zoo!”

Their faces were priceless, especially Caitlyn’s I wish I had thought to have my camera ready.  Then the “Yay!!!  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you” broke out.

They got dressed quick.  And headed to play outside while I figured out what we needed.  Once I got organized, Sue came in and started making sandwiches while I got myself around.

Caitlyn stayed outside with Patrice, who had climbed in the car and refused to get out.  SHE was GOING to the zoo.

As we were getting ready, I noticed my mood was better, then it was worse, then it was better.  It was changing so quickly I couldn’t keep up.  I told a friend who walks this road and she said, “yes honey, you are rapid cycling.”  We discussed a couple options to help and I chose one.

We finished getting ready and headed to the zoo.

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We had fun.  Thankfully hubby texted me to warn me there was torrential rain coming so we got into a building just in time.  Turns out we even practiced place values in numbers looking at a board of donors.  The rain cleared quickly and off we headed again.

And I realized my mind was quiet.  The thing with either the depression or the mania, my brain is loud.  My thoughts are disjointed and difficult to manage and I am never fully present.  I realized today was different, it was quiet.  I was really with my kids.  I was really at the zoo.  I was really here, for the first time in a month.

That thought was bliss.

We spent 4 1/2 hours at the zoo.  And it was great. I didn’t yell, there was minimal whining from the girls.  It was great!!!

And I learned something very valuable today.  It is important to reach out and say exactly what a symptom is.  Truly, I thought the confused, tumultuous, incoherent thoughts were just my imagination, a product of me obsessing too much.  And the rapid mood changes I was having, I thought, there is no way this is happening.  No way.  I must be going crazy, maybe I just crave attention.  But I asked, and found out it is normal, and there was an answer to help both.

You cannot even imagine how happy that knowledge, and ability to be present, makes me.

If you are living with mental illness, speak up, tell people what is really going on, including the things  you consider stupid.  You may find they are not only stupid, they are fixable!!  Fixable…how long have I suffered not knowing it was fixable.  Do yourself a favor, learn from my experience and get the help you need.

The animals were active

Down on the Farm

I’m a week late, but here is last Saturdays’ fun…

Every summer, even when I was overdue with Patrice, we go blueberry picking. This year we went another step and went apple picking.  I got votes from Facebook and we headed to the orchard overwhelming mentioned, Erwin’s.

We had no idea what to expect.  And what expectations we did have, were wrong.  The lines were longer than expected, but we enjoyed it so much.  The orchard is across from a pharmacy, behind a subdivision and HUGE!!!  We got off at the first stop on the wagon ride out to the trees, not knowing it was the first stop.  We had paid for a bushel.  I was afraid the girls would be bored to tears before we were done.  Turns out picking apples is way quicker than strawberries or blueberries.  We were done in about 10 minutes.

Taking pictures took much longer.  Much, much longer.

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And today, half a bushel of apples became 5 quarts of applesauce.

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