Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Follow That Red Suburban to Traverse City!

Our first trip with our camper and suburban was planned. We were going to spend five days and four nights in Traverse City, Michigan. We loaded up the camper and the suburban and off we went only one hour and 35 minutes past our estimated time of departure. A record for us! As we were traveling north, gas fumes were permeating the vehicle. We thought perhaps we should stop and check it out at a gas station in Sanford. As Bob was pulling in, a lady was also pulling in on the other side of us. In the process of avoiding hitting her, we hit the pretty red guard rail with our camper. It was just sickening. Nice red paint was now a decorative addition to the side of the camper. A good friend of mine told me that the first dent is always the hardest. Ughhh! Bob checked over the vehicle but couldn't find anything leaking or anything unusual so after the shock of the newly acquired dent had passed somewhat, we decided to continue north. We arrived at the KOA in Traverse City, registered for our stay and found out what site we were to enjoy the rest of the week. As we were going around the corner, our beautiful camper became lodged next to a bunch of trees. As I looked out the window and saw many fellow campers sitting around talking, I thought to myself as I sunk deeper in my seat with hands over my face, they are probably laughing their heads off at these newbie camper-want-to-be's. But despite my complete embarrassment, two gentlemen came to our rescue and saved us yet another dent to our new camper. We had reserved a full hook up, pull through site which was just a blessing for us as our initial set up was quite easy. The hosts here were so helpful and very nice. The campground itself was very clean and kid friendly. We give the Traverse City KOA seven thumbs up!

The next day, we decided to eat at the Omelette Shoppe on Front Street in Traverse City for breakfast. What a great place to eat! The kids enjoyed their smiley faced pancakes and Bob and I enjoyed their wonderful omelettes and scrumptious pecan rolls. We give them seven thumbs up.

We then decided to take on the Sleeping Bear Dunes to burn off our over-full stomachs. Gas fumes were still permeating the vehicle so we called Onstar. They did a diagnostic check on the car but couldn't find anything. We needed to take it in to get it looked at. Since it was Sunday and nobody was open, we decided to go ahead with our plans and take it in the next day. The Dunes were beautiful and we all enjoyed our time there. I thought for sure Aaron was going to become a rolling ball of sand all the way down but much to my amazement, none of us had to go fetch him at the bottom. Yeah!

That evening we stopped at the Freshwater Lodge for some yummy fried fish and chicken strips. My kids loved the duck tenderloins....hmmmmm, not sure how that happened! The following day was spent at the camper playing on the swings and enjoying Uno. The dealership called and told us they couldn't find a thing wrong with our car. I guess it will remain a mystery. Later that night, Bob opened a cupboard door and forgot to shut it. On his way to standing up, he whacked his head silly. All I could see was blood gushing all over. I thought to myself, I don't know where the heck there is a hospital and I got a car that could ignite into a fire ball. But what the hey, life's an adventure. After cleaning up the wound, I found that it was only a small gash and that he was going to be alright. Although, I made him stay up till two o'clock in the morning to make sure he didn't have a concussion.

We decided to go up to Charlevoix the next day and visit a place called Castle Farms. It is a beautiful castle that was once owned by the gentlemen who owned Sears and Roebuck. The owners that now own it, have updated it as it was originally. Many weddings and special events are held there. We give it seven thumbs up.

On our drive to Castle Farms, we came across the world's largest cherry pie and how it was made.

The next day we decided to try a place called Flap Jack Shack for breakfast. The service was good but the food stunk. We gave this place one thumb up.....and that was from our oldest son who loved the buffet. He gives anyone that has a buffet a thumbs up.

We let the kids swim in the Grand Traverse Bay. They enjoyed the water and the sandy beach. A certain duck decided to come up to us asking for food. We kindly sent him away!

We tried a place called The Big Eazy Rhythm and Blues Grill for dinner. We got a sampler plate for an appetizer which was quite pricey. However, much to my astonishment, my kids gobbled and I mean gobbled up the calamari and the alligator. Who are these children and where did they come from? They won't try a new casserole that I make at home but they now have tried, buffalo burgers, alligator, calamari and duck tenderloin....and liked it! We enjoyed ribs and chicken strips. Brad loved his half bleeping burger and Aaron loved his super sized kids pizza! We gave this place seven thumbs up!

It was time to pack up and go home. Our fun had been had. We all had a great time and many new memories to bring home with us. We love camping...why didn't we do this sooner?

On our way home, we stopped in Birch Run for dinner at Tony's Restaurant. It has a reputation of generous portions for the right price. What a surprise we got when we ordered the banana split for us to share! Aaron was standing on his chair when the waitress brought it out. His eyes got so big and he yelled out for the whole restaurant to hear..."holy cow"! The food was wonderful and the price was right. You can share with someone. Whether you order Italian, Mexican or chicken strips, it's always good. We give this restaurant seven thumbs up!

Even though we have a dent in our camper, an overfill of gas fumes, and a head injury, we had a blast on our trip. Look for the next episode of "Follow that Red Suburban"! See you soon!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Past Year...The Fall, The Flood and A New Baby.

We've had an adventure of a lifetime this past year. We've had a flood, a fall and in the midst of all that, our beautiful little Kara was born. They say that character is born out of trials and that God uses times like these to grow and beautify your relationship with Him. For that I am thankful....thankful that something good can and does come out of ugliness....thankful that God does care about my relationship with Him enough to give me times like these...and thankful that He gave us what we needed through people, prayer and His grace to get through it.

First came the flood......

Thanksgiving day 2005, was a cold and windy day. After all our festivities were done for the day, we sent the kids up to bed. A little bit later, Grace came down the stairs stating the fact that the toilet was broken upstairs. I went up to check on what all the fuss was about finding out that their was no water in the toilet and the shower was not working. I promptly yelled down to Bob for help. Between the two of us, the only answer to our quandary was that the pipes had frozen.

Usually I feel for those people who have to work on a holiday at the Meijer's down the street, but for once, I was very thankful they were there and open for business on this particular holiday. We purchased a space heater which Bob stayed up all night checking on so a fire didn't start. He finally pulled the plug early the following morning since it was getting too hot and didn't seem to be doing any good. He decided to lay down since he was very, very tired. Not soon after that, our early riser, Grace came frantically running in our room to inform us that there was water everywhere! And there was!

We had turned the shower on a trickle just in case the pipes thawed not thinking that the floor drain was frozen also. The inlet pipe had thawed out but the drain had not. Where does water go when the drain is frozen.....everywhere but there! As I went down stairs to get supplies to start cleaning it up...Ha!....I found that it was seeping through the ceiling in the hallway and kitchen. I realized at that moment....there would be no cleaning up....it had reached bigger proportions than any mop could fix. Our next step was to call the catastrophe team in!

The Fall.......

A little over a week later, we had planned on going with our church to Holiday nights at Greenfield Village. We were all packed up and ready to go...we just needed to get the tickets from the table located inside our church. It was a beautiful night...crystal clear with a light dusting of snow starting to fall. As Bob was coming back to the car, I saw him fall. Usually, one can get right back up but he seemed to be having a hard time getting in the upright position. My oldest son, Brad, wanted to go help him but I told him Dad had it under control and just to wait....he'd be fine.

When he finally made it back to the car, his face was as white as the snow that was falling. I thought to myself...that must of hurt! Bob said that his ankle hurt but he would just try to wait a few minutes and then we could go. He tried to stand up on it and almost lost his balance again. I realized then, even though he said we could just go and he would wait in the car while we had fun, that our fun would have to be had in the emergency waiting room. Being pregnancy and very emotional from the ordeal we had previously and were still experiencing, informed the kids with tears running down my cheeks, that we would not be going to Greenfield Village.

Over the next month and a half, a horrible doctor and so much pain, we decided that we needed to see a specialist. Upon his observation, he thought that Bob needed surgery. He had torn the main ligament in his ankle and needed surgery to anchor those back in place. His surgery date was set for April 5th. As I was sitting in the waiting room while Bob was having surgery, having contractions and praying this baby would not come early, I prayed that Bob would heal quickly.

I've never experienced a spouse being in so much pain before. I physically felt ill. The after effects of the surgery were awful. I could hear him in the other room, just praying...please, God, help me...help me....I believe that the pain was so awful that is all that he could pray...over and over again. At that moment, I thought I wasn't going to make it through. I was so overwhelmed with watching him, my pregnancy, trying to maintain life for the kids. The only place to go was on my knees and pray for strength that only God can give. As I was praying one day, I felt a flutter of peace enter into my soul. I cannot explain it....it was ever so soft but yet so strong. I knew then, at that moment, God was reassuring me of His love, His hope....we were going to make it through!

The Baby.....

I was having contractions off and on from January. Not your usual prelabor contractions, but strong, reminding me how awful labor can be, labor pains. By April, the doctor was watching closely....he said the baby could come anytime. I wasn't due till mid May. Every night, I'd wake from contractions. It became my usual routine. Early on the morning of May 2nd, I began those contractions, I thought to myself...I'll just go lay on the couch and wait till they stop. Bob wanted to know if he should call the doctor. I said to him...No, I'm not having this baby tonight. You are still on pain medication and in pain. It's just not time yet. I laid down on the couch and my water broke. I promptly got up and said...perhaps, I am having this baby!

Four and a half hours later, I told the nurse the baby was coming. She checked me and made notes in her chart....obviously not in a hurry. She indicated to me that we had a little bit yet to go. But she would go get the doctor. By the time the doctor and the nurse came back, the baby was laying in the bed using her very healthy lungs to tell everyone she had arrived. The doctor walked in, scratched his head and replied oh, ok....the nurse was in shock. She said that has never happened to her in the 25 years she had worked there. Maybe someone should listen to the patient.....A Mom knows!

It is now August, Kara has arrived, the surgery has come and gone, and my home is finally finished being repaired. God is good! We did make it and now can see God's fingerprints all over our lives...where he held us up and where he carried us. He truly is our sustainer.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ryan is five now....

Our happy faced, endless ball of energy bounced out of bed on the day of his birthday yelling "I'm five now". As he glanced down at his 'now age five' legs, he became apparently upset. I asked him what was wrong and he replied....my legs are suppose to be long now but they aren't. Suppressing complete laughter at his comment, I assured him that God made him just the right size and Mama wasn't ready for him to be as tall as her yet.

In celebration of his birthday, I agreed to take the kids to Chuck E. Cheeses after lunch. As we all piled in the car, the excited voices grew with each mile we got closer to the long awaited funland. Once we got our hand stamped, everyone started taking off in their own direction. I thought to myself, what in the world made me think that this was a good idea. Think about this.....Mom in tow with newborn, two year old, five year old, eight year old and an eleven year old to a land of excitable, hyper children of all ages....and lots of them. I quickly told the two older ones to watch their 'buddy'...yeah, right! As each one scampered off to their own destination, I thought to myself....you are one crazy lady!

Needless to say, I spent the whole time chasing after the younger ones while the older ones were scattered here and there. How in the world do you keep track of your kids in a place like that and keep your sanity? In one of my laps around the room, I ran into an old boyfriend. Let me add....very weird introducing my children to his children. He was there having 'dad's day out' with his kids. I find it very funny that out of all the places I run into someone from my past....it had to be there. Ryan told me later....he liked that nice man. He was his friend. Ughhh.

Later, we fixed Ryan's choice for dinner...hot dogs, chips, pop and no vegetable. Grandpa and Grandma came to visit and share in all the festivities. I wonder sometimes if perhaps all this excitement that exudes from this house is too much for those who are past toddler years or haven't as yet embraced this season of life....I can only imagine getting into my car to leave a household such as mine, and hear the complete silence...along with a sigh of relief that I actually could hear myself think...again, I can only imagine....

As I kissed my spiderman clothed, little 'I'm five now' boy goodnight, he promptly tells me how much he loves me and how very glad he is finally five. Maybe when he is six....he'll be big!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Welcome to the Nut House!

As you begin to read my posts, you will suddenly be taken back into a world of complete and utter chaos, a world where boys run, scream, laugh, joke, and girls join in and try to outdo them. A world full of ups and downs and all arounds. A world where we live life alive and free to be us.

So our story begins.....

I'll begin with our youngest. Her name is Kara. She's three months old, isn't ten full pounds yet and let's you know how she's feeling. She has the bestest smile and the greatest grin that will melt your heart at one glance. You have to watch her though, she already knows how to flip over on her tummy especially when she is letting you know how unhappy she is. She's a keeper!

Then there is Aaron. He's two and a half. Where do I begin....he's adventurous, challenging, aggressive and has his own mind made up. His "No, Mama do it" or "uh oh, problem" rings throughout our home. I wouldn't trade him for anything.

Ryan just turned five. He is a sweet, sweet, boy. He's got enough love to go around except for his brother, Aaron. He will share anything and everything with you but not for his brother Aaron. He loves life and has so much curiosity. He reminds me daily that he loves his mama and that he also has a mind of his own.

Then there is Grace. She's a lively eight year old who loves art. She eats, sleeps and breathes art. We have her art work in the upstairs closet, in the downstairs closet, on top of the microwave, on top of the entertainment center....any open space....we have a sampling of her art. Oh, and most definitely on the refrigerator door......

And on to our oldest....His name is Brad. He is eleven. He is entering the world of puberty. A world of leg and armpit hair. A world he hopes will go away. He is not wanting to take on this adventure but feels it is being forced on him. He is swaying like the wind, I might add, between wanting to make decisions for himself and wanting no responsibilities. He loves to read, hates Math, loves his baby sister, Kara, and loves loves loves video games.

We recently were planning a vacation up North and realized just how much money that it was going to take to stay in a hotel. So we decided to buy a camper. First we stopped at a pop up camper. Mama bear stood inside with all five of her baby bears and she said to herself....oh no....no way. We promptly left before the you break it, you buy it rules applied. Next we visited an RV...cost $211,000. Sorry, can't buy one that cost more than our swinging pad that is definitely not on wheels. Then we visited the travel trailers. From the moment I discovered it had it's own bathroom with a shower and toilet and air conditioning, I was hooked. This was the one for us! But what kind of car do you need to pull a home away from home trailer? You guessed it....a big, red beautiful Suburban. The banks and the gas stations will love us!

And so our adventures in camping, car payment, camper payment, insurance and all the fixin's that go along with life begins....

Welcome to the Nut House!