Saturday, July 28, 2007

Happy 6th, Ryan!

Today is our Ryan's 6th birthday.

The day began with breakfast at Ram's Horn with Dad. He got the 'best' pancakes, he said. Then, he and Dad went to the local Toys R Us to pick out a new bike. Before he went to bed the night before, he asked again this year (seems to be the annual question) if his legs would be long when he woke up. As Bob was trying to fit him to a bike just the right size for him, they discovered that his legs had indeed grown long. So long that he was no longer the right size for the Spiderman bike which he really wanted. Instead, he had to settle for a really cool red bike with blue and silver that reminded him of Superman and that was just fine, he said.

He has been asking if he could ride the train at Greenfield Village for his birthday for over a month but we were already scheduled to have a family celebration for my Grandpa's graduation in Frankenmuth so we had to postpone the train ride till the following day.

Here's Drumstick

We had the famous chicken from Zenhders for dinner or a famous hot dog if you were Ryan. He got to have his picture taken with Drumstick, the Zenhders chicken who walks around the restaurant greeting all the visitors. Aaron didn't care for the chicken, after getting near him, he decided it was time to go home! And to top off the dinner, Ryan and Uncle Dave (because they share a birthday) got a yummy chocolate sundae.

Uncle Dave and Grandpa

While we were waiting for everyone to finish up dinner and pay the waiter, Brad decided to show our precious little Kara how to spit peas across the table (see what happens when a 12 year old has too much time on his hands). She loved all the attention she was getting, not to mention the giggles from certain relatives. Can you imagine just how much this spurred her on to continue....guess we ought to leave an extra amount on the tip for clean up???! Just wait till I get ahold of that boy!

After dinner, we walked around some of the cool stores they have in town with Aunt Katie and Uncle Kent and Lauren (an adopted friend) until Kara ran out of steam and Grace had blisters on her feet from wearing new shoes. Once we were was PRESENT TIME! Ryan received some pretty cool gifts that included Spongebob lego's and a new game for his game boy and Daddy put his bike together.

Happy 6th birthday, Ryan!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Photo Opportunities

My Mother mentioned to me recently that she did not have updated pictures of the kids. Hmmm...I thought to myself. I remember when I took the kids to the local Sears to get their pictures taken every three months when they were babies and then once a year. Then I found that it was becoming more stressful for me as we added more children to our family.

The kids would be running around the waiting room while I was in with the child that was currently getting their picture taken or they'd all be with me in the photo room and totally distracting the child that 'needed' to smile. Oh, and then there was those times when we were patiently waiting for our turn, only to find that our photographer was African-American and grumpy sending the child into a sobbing fit or we'd get a photographer that had so many piercings that it was hard to see their face. Can you get your kids to smile without a tear running down their cheek in those instances? Not we'd end up having to reschedule. Ahhh...the memories.

Anybody that knows me, knows how much my camera means to me. I love to capture the natural moments and the kodak moments and all those in between. One day when I was going through some of those pictures, I realized there were some pretty cool shots of the kids. So from that day forward, I decided to use those cool shots of the kids to blow up to 8x10's for the Grandmas and relatives. It is so less stressful then trying to keep the kids clean while you quick hop in the car and get to the photo taking place before they get something on their new outfit you've been saving for just this moment only to find you can't get them to smile even if you stand on your head making quacking noises.

Of course, my new adventure is chasing a 14 month around trying to get a picture of her face so Grandma will be able to display it proudly amongst her growing collage. This is what I've got....

I'm tired! Maybe we'll try again tomorrow :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Can You Do This?

Or maybe this....

Or what about this??

Who do you think Grace takes after?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Camping With Our Small Group

We left this past Thursday for yet another camping trip. This one was with our small group from church at a private camp site. There were five families that enjoyed the great chilly outdoors. The weather for the most part was partly sunny with a smattering of rain here and there but it was quite cool during the day and downright cold at night.

We ate all our meals together under the pavilion, played cards (I even learned how to play euchre!), and watched the children play on the mountain of dirt. Some went fishing, shot skeet, played their guitar and we even did an experiment that included a bottle of diet coke and mentos. We canceled the trip to the beach due to the north wind blowing in the cold front. We took turns sweeping and mopping to keep the place clean. Our Kara decided to add her help in making footprints with her dirty little feet on a newly mopped floor....

One of the families brought their fluffy white dog named Lightning. Kara took a liking to him instantly. She followed him (or should I say she stalked him day and night) around waving at him while saying 'hi there'. She pounded on him, laid on him, tried to crawl over him and even brought him some of his dog treats. Of course, she had to taste it first before her Mother flew over the picnic tables to get to her before she put it in her mouth. Blehhhh.....

Then there was poor little Aaron who was deathly afraid of Lightning. He didn't like him from the start. He stayed far, far away away from the dog making wide, wide circles to go around him. From the moment Lightning arrived, Aaron asked to go home. He didn't like that dog, he said. He clung to his parents for most of the weekend while everyone told him that he didn't have a thing to worry about because Lightning was a nice dog. Lightning was NOT a nice dog, he said.

After the close of our weekend and we arrived home once again, Aaron was once again smiling. I like my home, there's NO dog, he said.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Follow That Red Suburban to Interlochen - Day 5

Day five was our day to pack up and head home. I always hate to say good-bye but I guess reality needs your presence at some point. Who would keep tourism flourishing if we didn't have any money to spend??? And who would purchase all those hats that are out there just waiting for some poor soul who doesn't want peeling skin on the top of his head from an awful sunburn that he got from being hatless....

Of course, it happen to be that EVERYONE decided to sleep in TODAY! As Bob jolted from the bed after hearing the rain and thunder beginning, he threw on his clothes and scurried outside to get the awning pulled in, the hitch on and hooked up before it decided to down pour. We managed to get packed up and ready to roll very quickly right before the clouds moved aside and the sunshine came out.....and BEFORE I had my coffee (this is never a good thing).

As we exited Interlochen State Park, we stopped to give this park a seven thumbs up plus four more. With all it's trees and beautiful park setting and being full to the brim with campers from all over, they kept it pretty clean and were pretty friendly.

Apparently, cooking pancakes wasn't going to happen so it was unanimous that we head on over to Grandma's Kitchen for some breakfast before we headed home. After quite a wait being that everyone else had the same idea on a Sunday morning, we sat down to a breakfast buffet that included scrambled eggs with cheese and ham, potatoes hashbrowned or not, sausage gravy and biscuits, french toast sticks and sausage or bacon, your choice. After eating at the Omelette Shoppe, I wasn't quite as impressed but the food was hot and the coffee was plentiful.

Towards the end of our travels, the 'I'm hungry' screams were getting louder. We ended up at Bill's request for some beef at Lucky's Steakhouse in Imlay City. Our waitress was very friendly and the food was delicious! I had a steak salad with a horseradish dressing that was absolutely fantastic. Kara's macaroni and cheese with it's homemade sauce was awesome too (I took a bit or two)! The kids ate all their chicken strips up and the ranch on the side was to their satisfaction. Bob's prime rib and Brad's rib eye were also very delicious. We give this place a seven thumbs up also!

We had a blast traveling about and exploring places we haven't seen before. We look forward to our next adventure.....stay tuned!

Follow That Red Suburban to Interlochen - Day 4

We began day four with a delicious breakfast at one of our favorite breakfast hangouts in Traverse City. The Omelette Shoppe has the best pecan rolls in the North. They also serve up some good ol' fashioned customer service. The coffee is hot and the food is Yum-o. If you should have to wait your turn to be seated, don't be surprised to be given a name like George Clooney or Bette makes for a very fun experience when they call your name to be seated. They also have these fun signs on the wall that are worth a look-see. My favorite is: There will be a $5 charge for WHINING! I need this for my own home :-) Being the tourists that we are and so being impressed with this establishment and wanting to promote the community, my darling husband bought paraphernalia which included another HAT to add to his growing collection and a coffee mug! We give this place a definite seven thumbs up!

As we pulled out of the parking lot and came to the stop light, there were a bunch of girls on the side of the road from the swim team promoting their car wash. We decided to let them wash our cars. It was pretty funny watching the giggle gang try to wash a car. Did they notice there was a roof or maybe that was way too high up there, I'm not sure. But overall, they did a pretty good job.

As we were headed back home, we decided to stop at TC-RV to see if they had a good price on a tote hauler which is these cute little blue tote's that you can dump your waste into and take it over manually to the dump station. It beats having a nasty backup and if you should stuck in a certain site between lots and lots of trees and not want to move your camper for nothing, it's well worth the purchase. While we were there, we just happened to check out some fifth wheels that were nicer than my home. Some even came with a fireplace and a garden tub! Now that's what I call home away from home. After Bob starts making his millions, we'll be sure to go back and check them out!

Since it was another gorgeous day, we decided to head back out to the beach in Frankfort. But before we arrived there, we decided to stroll through the quaint little village shops. We grabbed some sandwiches from a cute little deli and headed to the beach. Bob and Bill wanted to visit the smokehouse place that offered smoked salmon. They bought some of that, some crackers, cheese and hunter sausage for a snack on the beach. Again....yum-o. I think I'm not going to be able to eat again for a week! ({{{wink-wink}}} Did I mention that Miss Kara didn't enjoy the water so much....

Karin's sister, Katie, brought these adorable little kites to fly on the beach. Karin had so much fun getting her kite to fly, she spent most of the time doing that until Bill and little Jeremy decided she needed to get wet.

I just have to mention Henry in my blog. He is the cutest little two year old (besides my own kids) and quite fascinating to talk to. He is so funny and you should see him do his pirate face for you. It will have you in stitches. He has a few others but that one was my favorite. He, also, had a grand ol' time building sand castles and playing in the water.

Here's Henry!

After soaking in the sun and enjoying the water, we headed back home BUT....not until after we stopped for ICE CREAM! Along the way, there was this little ice cream shop called JoMo's. Bill and Karin got a turtle sundae, I got a Eskimo Kiss (Coconut ice cream with chocolate truffles and a fudge ripple) in a waffle cone, Aaron and Ryan got superman (of course!), and Grace had a soft serve dipped in sprinkles (she's my sprinkle girl) and Kara missed out, she fell fast asleep two seconds after we were in the car. We give this place a seven thumbs up!

Once back at the ranch, Bob and Bill used our newly purchased tote hauler to empty the trailer tanks. It must have just been too much because pretty soon, I get a knock on my camper door from Bill asking how pizza sounded. I think he was too bushed to think about cooking. Pizza it was so we headed off to eat at Cicero's. The service was friendly and the food was delicious. We had along with our pizza, cheese bread, wings and salad too...enough to feed an army (oh, wait! We do have our own tribe). They have a piano there for customer's to use and I suppose you could say that could potentially be fun or perhaps annoying depending on whether your three year old is playing it or a nine year old boy who came to dine from another party and played like an expert pianist. Apparently, he's been studying music since he was three and was up from Texas at a music camp that is being held there in Interlochen. Simply amazing!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Follow That Red Suburban to Interlochen - Day 3

Today was my day to make breakfast. I made cinnamon french toast and Bill cooked the sausages. I had the coffee but he had the syrup. So finally after the last piece of toast was cooked, I meandered over to their camp site to have syrup on my french toast, sausage on my plate and a place to sit to drink my coffee and enjoy the rest of the morning. There is nothing like eating breakfast outside in the morning while the dew is still in the air and the smell of the campfire is still lingering about.

We decided to get our showers and head off to Friske Farms where Bob and I had discovered this wonderful creamed cherry pecan honey on our trip last year. We wanted to share this cute little farm with it's kid maze and playhouse shaped ark with our friends. I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and got the kids ready to go while Bob got his shower. Then it was my turn. There was quite a line for the public showers and I don't generally enjoy using them. That is why I was ecstatic to have a shower in our camper. As I'm looking out the sunroof that happens to be over the shower, I was thanking God for yet another beautiful day that was ahead of us. I was up to my head in lather when all of the sudden, no water was coming out the shower head or the faucet. Apparently, the fresh water tank did NOT get filled with it's full capacity of 40 gallons and being the wonderful wife that I am even if it was unknown at the time, let my husband have a wonderfully cleansing shower before me leaving him rinsed from head to toe. I began to wonder as the itching and stinging began to set in, how many people outside of our camper and along the way to the public restroom (provided there was one free and not a line) would notice a half crazed, lathered up women running down to the showers to get thoroughly rinsed. Then I thought, so far in the three days we've been camping, we have enough material to write a sequel to the movie that Robin Williams was in entitled, RV!

Thank goodness my husband happened to come into the camper and I yelled for him to give me bottles of water. The question of the day was.....just how many bottles of Ice Mountain does it take to rinse the shampoo from your hair and caress soap from your body? That will remain unanswered until the day I die and be sealed in the vault where they hold the answer to how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie pop. As I was squealing from the coldness of the water being poured over my head, I could hear the hysterical laugher coming from my loving husband. I will forever be known as Aqua woman by some.

After the laughter had died down and the jokes came to a slow down, we headed off to Friske Farms. It's a quaint little orchard with many condiments available for your purchase made with cherries. We highly recommend the milk chocolate covered dried cherries and the creamed cherry pecan honey. The kids fed the goats, played in the ark, ran through the maze and sat on a tractor.

On the way back we stopped at the Grand Traverse Bay beach which wasn't as nice as the one in Frankfort. The kids played in the water and some of them even fed the seagulls. On our way, back to our camp site, Bob decided to stop and purchase some hose to run from our camper to the fresh water hook up since we were only about 150-200 feet from it. There was NO WAY we were going to pull the camper around to fill and dump and then try and get that sucker back in there. That would have been an all night event and another thing for the experienced campers sitting around their campfires watching all us newbie campers to get a big ol' hee haw about.

People were laughing and making jokes as we strung one hose to the next to try to stretch it all the way to where it needed to go but we just didn't buy enough hose. Bob was determined. He set off once again to the store to purchase yet some more hose. We finally had enough to reach and began filling up our tank. Then, here comes Mr. Park Ranger in his little jeep and scolding voice. You can't do that, sir. People could trip and that would just be no good. At least, he let us finish up and left with the assurance we would never do that again. However, as we were headed to unhook the hose from the filling station, other campers along the way were asking us to fill their tanks too. Why not? And that's what we did. You got to get your use of the zillion dollar hose purchase....I suppose you can't take it back after you use it???

Follow That Red Suburban to Interlochen - Day 2

Day two of our vacation began.

Of course, after being out late due to our driving adventure, I had hopes that we could sleep in just a smitch. Kara and Aaron decided at 6:30 a.m that they were ready to start their day which means no more sleep for me :-( Thank goodness, Mr. Bill, an early riser himself, had breakfast cooking as quick as you could say, I can't get my eye's open! Scrambled eggs with ham and cheese and a side of sausage was available to all who wanted to partake.

After filling our tummies, we kind of all sat around comatose-like enjoying the beautiful day. During our vegetative state, we decided to venture back to Frankfort where there was a gorgeous beach on Lake Michigan. The sand was clean and the sun was beating down making it a perfect day to get wet. The kids had fun building sand castle's in the sand. There was even a lighthouse to venture out to. We give the beach in Frankfort seven thumbs up!

Meghan, Grace's friend, being buried in the warm sand.

Grace, Ryan and Aaron out at the lighthouse.

Bill trying to scare the seagulls away...(or was it people??)

We drove back to our site for what I call foil dinners (aka steam boats). They are hamburger patties, potatoes and carrots all cooked together over the fire in a foil packet. We also were introduced to a hobo dessert by another couple who happens to be the sister of our friends. They were camping with all of us. You buy this really cool hobo sandwich maker which is made of cast iron. You butter a piece of Styrofoam bread and place it on one side, filling it with cherry pie filling and some Hershey's chocolate. Then you butter another piece of Styrofoam bread and place it on top, closing the two sides together encloses it into a sandwich form. Place in the fire for 5-10 minutes and then remove. When you open it up, what you find is this buttery toasted bread with a cherry-chocolatey dessert that is very yummy! But be careful you don't burn your tongue!

We then, loaded everybody up and headed on over to the Cherry Bowl Drive In Theater. They were showing Ratatouille and the Pirates of the Caribbean latest movie. The snack shack was a big time hit and pocket draining experience for the kids and my husband. They had nachos, chili fries, popcorn, funnel cake, and let's not forget to mention, Mt. Dew! Kara made it through the first movie but was not to be put off by the second. An employee of the Theater even offered to get her a bottle of warm milk and it wasn't because she was being disruptive. They were just trying to be helpful. Aaron fell asleep half way through the movie all curled up in a beach chair. We decided not to stay for the second movie since a fussing baby is not for a pleasurable movie experience. Brad and Grace were going to stay behind with our friends. We loaded up part of our family and went to head home when what do you suppose we found?

A dead, dead battery with no jumper cables.

Thank goodness, the people at the Cherry Bowl Theater are use to this thing. Although, we had to wait in line to use their battery jumping portable pack, they were super nice about it. Apparently, we were number nine.

If you are ever in Interlochen, we highly recommend that you come check this place out. The customer service is extremely friendly and very welcoming to all. We give it seven thumbs up plus four more...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Follow That Red Suburban to Interlochen - DAY 1

We decided to join some friends of ours very spontaneously on their trip to Interlochen over the holiday. We were skeptical that we would even be able to find a camp site available but much to our amazement there was some available but just not all on one camp site. We were going to have to hopscotch it for the time we were there but we thought that would be no problem since Interlochen State Park (which is one of the oldest and biggest in Michigan) has less than modern sites available. This means for us, a family of seven, need to fill the fresh water tank for showers and such and dump the excess if you know what I mean. How long does it take to fill a 40 gallon tank? I will spare you the answer.

The trip up there was pretty smooth until we stopped at a rest stop to give Kara, our one year old, a break from being cooped up and a snack. She was insistently letting us know it was time. While everyone was taking a potty break, I took Kara into the camper to feed her. I turned very quickly to throw away her yogurt container and she somehow scampered over to the door quickly and quietly (which didn't get shut all the way) and fell down the metal stairs onto the pavement. As I rushed to her, blood was running out her nose and a purple goose egg on her head was raising quicker than a volcano reaching it's boiling point. Other than that, she seemed coherent and alert. So after a bit of consoling and kissing on, she was ready to roll.

Upon arrival to the park, we were excited to find out that there were some cancellations which meant we did not have to move our trailer. It could stay in one spot the whole time we were going to be there! Only people who are familiar with backing in a 30 foot trailer between a bunch of trees could really appreciate our excitement. We stopped at the filling station to fill the fresh water tank with water. (Let me just interject here....I've never filled the fresh water tank, we've always used the water hook-up right there next to our camper for an ever available supply of water...end interjection.) As I was filling the tank, I heard the gurgle that reminded me of a full tank (just like filling the gas tank) and water shot back out at me leading to my assumption that it was full.

We then proceeded to our site which with great surprise, we were met with a very narrow and very wooded site to try to maneuver our trailer into. Now keep in mind, it was very crowded so using the site in front of us was a bit difficult. We couldn't see anyway possible to get the trailer in so we drove back up front to see what could be done and were met with...that site, sir, is good for a 35 foot trailer. So off we went back to the site. Only this time we went down the up (one way) listening to many telling us we were going the wrong way. We even went bajaing through the baseball diamond trying to not hit trees and such. Once we got to our site, Bob tried for an hour to back our trailer into the site. We had offers from our friendly neighbors to use their smaller vehicles to back us in but of course, they weren't rated for such a load. Finally, one of our neighbors came by to offer his directional assistance and it came at right moment before frustration started flying. In two shakes, he had us backed in and in just the right spot. Was it poor parenting to offer our first born child to him?

We set up camp, ate some dinner and off we went to Frankfort to watch the fireworks being shot off Lake Michigan. It was spectacular and enjoyed by all except for Aaron. He covered his ears the whole time and quite emphatically announced to me that I needed to go tell them to stop right now.

One of our friends had stopped on the way up to our destination at a fresh cherry stand to buy some cherries and had been eating those all afternoon. What happens when you eat a lot of fresh I dare mention this??? I hope she will forgive me as I continue. You get a rumbly in the tumbly and I'm not talking hunger pains. During the fireworks, she was searching for a restroom but none was to be found. As it was getting more and more urgent her daughter mentioned she needed to go potty and what a perfect decoy she was. What would you do in this situation? Would you find some bushes or would you put on your most beautiful smile with your adorable daughter right in front of you and plead at someone's front door? Well, she choose to ask at one of the houses to have pity and the husband of the home did. The wife, wasn't so sure but at least, she got in before he changed his mind!

On our way home, we were directed by another person in our party (not mentioning any names to protect the innocent) to turn right when we should have turned left. After 35 miles or so and not seeing anything familiar (of course, what looks familiar in a strange place, in the middle of complete darkness, in the middle of the night???), it came to our realization that we had indeed gone the wrong way. A U-Turn was made and off we were again. After two and a half hours, we arrived back at our camp site ready for B-E-D.